The excavation site at an elite cemetery in the ancient Egyptian city of Hierakonpolis. Among the many animals buried in the cemetery are six newly discovered cats, including four kittens.
Bioarchaeologist Wim Van Neer excavates a small pit containing 6 cat skeletons at Hierakonpolis.
A pit about 20 inches (50 cm) in diameter holds the remains of two adult cats and four kittens.
Cat skeletons found in an elite cemetery in Hierakonpolis may have been sacrified and buried as part of some religious ritual.
Bone measurements suggest the cats belonged to the species Felis silvestris, the European wildcat shown here. These cats are the likely ancestors of modern housecats.
In later periods, cats were an indisputable part of Egyptian life. This mummified kitten dates to between 332 B.C. and 30 B.C. It was likely bred to be sacrificed to the feline goddess Bastet, according to a 2012 study.