Previous research had recovered DNA from the Near Eastern wildcat, the ancestor of modern domestic cats, from ancient sites in Central Europe dated to 3000 BC. Such finds preceded the establishment of domestic cats in the region by millennia, which is believed to happened during the Roman period.
“This raised questions about cats’ way from the Near East to Central Europe and their relationships with humans, including their domestication status,” said Dr Danijela Popović, from the University of Warsaw.
As such, Dr Danijela and a team of researchers began a new research project combining palaeogenetics, zooarchaeology and radiocarbon dating to study the origins and history of the cat in Central Europe. Their preliminary results are published in the journal Antiquity.
One key finding is further evidence of Near Eastern wildcat genes in European specimens before the Neolithic, when the first farmers began migrating into Europe. “This means that their dispersal through Europe preceded the first farmers’ arrival, so these cats probably were still wild animals that naturally colonised Central Europe,” said Dr Popović.
Such a timeline raises many further questions about this migration, such as whether a relationship developed between these early cats and ancient farming communities, how far into Europe they reached, and whether there is evidence of them mating with the native European wildcat. The team hopes their project will shed light on some of these issues.
Additionally, the researchers also expect that the high-resolution data obtained in this project will help determine when and how domestic cats appeared in Central Europe, as well as their migration routes. This could also show how it was connected to human history and how much it impacted the European wildcat’s natural population.
“We believe that our results will be significant for the conservation management of European wildcats,” said Dr Popović.
The team also found domestic cats were bred smaller over time. Analysis of the physical changes in domestic cats over the millennia revealed that Roman housecats were, on average, larger than their modern counterparts. Over the next few centuries, they decreased in size, becoming slightly smaller than modern cats during the Middle Ages.
The team hopes they will be able to illuminate many more aspects of cats’ history before the project is over. “We believe that current research will allow us to understand the complexity of cat-human and cat-wildlife coexistence in Central Europe from the earliest moments until recent times,” said Dr Popović.
Header Image Credit : Antiquity
HERITAGEDAILY is an independent publisher of the latest scientific discoveries and research news with a focus on archaeology. HERITAGEDAILY is the sister site of DINOSAURDAILY and is part of the HERITAGE COMMUNICATIONS group of brands.
We are using cookies to give you the best experience on our website.
You can find out more about which cookies we are using or switch them off in .
We treat all information as private and confidential, any information we do collect is kept in a secure location. We will only use information supplied for the purpose of promoting our scientific news content, and keeping you informed of the latest developments in the field. Your email address is used solely for this purpose and kept secure.
These terms and conditions are governed and construed in accordance with the laws of England. You agree that the English court shall have exclusive jurisdiction but we may use another court if we choose.
Unless otherwise specified, the Site is directed solely at individuals from the UK. If you choose to access the Site from locations outside the United Kingdom, you do so on your own initiative and are responsible for compliance with local laws.
All users of the website agree that any information provided is being stored in a database (including IP address). This information will not be disclosed to any third party or be used for marketing reasons. HeritageDaily cannot be held responsible for any hacking or cracking attempt that may lead to the data being compromised.
Strictly Necessary Cookie should be enabled at all times so that we can save your preferences for cookie settings.
If you disable this cookie, we will not be able to save your preferences. This means that every time you visit this website you will need to enable or disable cookies again.
(the “Website”), is operated by HERITAGEDAILY
What are cookies?
Cookies are small text files that are stored in the web browser that allows HERITAGEDAILY or a third party to recognise you. Cookies can be used to collect, store and share bits of information about your activities across websites, including on the HERITAGEDAILY website and subsidiary brand website.
Cookies can be used for the following purposes:
– To enable certain functions
– To provide analytics
– To store your preferences
– To enable ad delivery and behavioural advertising
HERITAGEDAILY uses both session cookies and persistent cookies.
A session cookie is used to identify a particular visit to our Website. These cookies expire after a short time, or when you close your web browser after using our website. We use these cookies to identify you during a single browsing session.
A persistent cookie will remain on your devices for a set period of time specified in the cookie. We use these cookies where we need to identify you over a longer period of time. For example, we would use a persistent cookie for remarketing purposes on social media platforms such as Facebook advertising or Google display advertising.
If you don’t like the idea of cookies or certain types of cookies, you can change your browser’s settings to delete cookies that have already been set and to not accept new cookies. To learn more about how to do this, visit the help pages of your chosen browser.
Please note, if you delete cookies or do not accept them, your user experience may lack many of the features we offer, you may not be able to store your preferences and some of our pages might not display properly.
For more information on cookies, please visit the information commissioners officer (ico): https://ico.org.uk/for-the-public/online/cookies/