A pet ᴄᴇᴍᴇᴛᴇʀʏ discovered in Egypt’s town Berenike has yielded remains of animals which were companions rather than of religious use. What is mostly the case in the various animal ʙᴜʀɪᴀʟs found in Egypt is that the animals ʙᴜʀɪᴇᴅ in specific locations were bred for sᴀᴄʀɪғɪᴄᴇ and often ʙᴜʀɪᴇᴅ as offerings in religious rituals.
The ᴇxᴄᴀᴠᴀᴛɪᴏɴ at Berenike, an ancient Red Sea port town, revealed what was actually a pet ᴄᴇᴍᴇᴛᴇʀʏ. The ᴇxᴄᴀᴠᴀᴛɪᴏɴ, which started in 2011, is led by Steven Sidebotham from the University of Delaware in cooperation with the Polish Centre for Mediterranean Archaeology from the Warsaw University.
Archaeologists unearthed about 100 intact animal skeletons, as well as artefacts. The pet ᴄᴇᴍᴇᴛᴇʀʏ probably dates to the period between the late 1st and first half of the 2nd century AD. It was located in an area between the town of Berenike and a Ptolemaic fort area nearby.
Most of the animals ʙᴜʀɪᴇᴅ at the site were cats, with 86 complete sᴋᴇʟᴇᴛᴏɴs, while three of them were double ʙᴜʀɪᴀʟs of one adult and one juvenile feline. The next highest number of sᴋᴇʟᴇᴛᴏɴs found were those of dogs, with nine sᴋᴇʟᴇᴛᴏɴs. Archaeologists also unearthed three monkeys. Some ɢʀᴀᴠᴇ offerings were also discovered and some of the animals were ʙᴜʀɪᴇᴅ along with their iron collars and ostrich egg-shell beads around their necks.
The offerings, the ᴛᴏᴍʙsᴛᴏɴᴇs, the improvised sarcophagus-like vessels in which the animals were ʙᴜʀɪᴇᴅ all indicate that the owners of the animals approached the ʙᴜʀʏɪɴɢ process with care and tenderness.
Marta Osypińska of the Polish Academy of Sciences, the author of a new study in the journal Antiquity highlighted the significance of the emotional factor, which renders this ʙᴜʀɪᴀʟ site an actual pet ᴄᴇᴍᴇᴛᴇʀʏ.