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Mon Jun 19, 2017, 12:00 PM

How cats conquered the ancient world

Source: BBC

How cats conquered the ancient world

By Helen Briggs
BBC News

19 June 2017 Science & Environment

The domestic cat is descended from wild cats that were tamed twice - in the Near East and then Egypt, according to the largest study of its kind.

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In the study, researchers extracted mitochondrial DNA (which is passed down the maternal line) from more than 200 ancient cat remains that came from Viking graves, Egyptian mummies and Stone Age sites.

DNA evidence shows cat domestication began about 9,000 years ago in the Near East, where farming started. Farmers were probably the first people to tame wild cats and then take them on their travels, either accidently or deliberately.

A second wave of cat domestication happened in ancient Egypt. Cats spread to Europe during the Roman era and went even further during the Viking period. Egyptian cat DNA was even found in a Viking port, suggesting cats were carried on maritime trading routes to northern Europe.

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Read more: http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-40306897

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