Spearheaded by Marta Osypińska, a team of researchers from the Polish Academy of Sciences, discovered a pet cemetery while exhuming an ancient trash dump by Berenike.
In this academic journal they published Antiquity, the researchers outlined the burial site in the article, as being about two thousand years old. This implicates that burials were concomitant with the period when Egypt was reigned by the Roman Empire.
The cemetery is composed of about one hundred animals, mostly cats. The scientists noted eighty-six cats, about nine dogs and two monkeys. Unbelievably, all of their skeletons were intact.
The location is interesting as it was clearly allocated just for pets. Among the cats, two wore necklaces made of ostrich shells. The animals that bore ornamental iron collars were three other cats, then one of the monkeys. It is also noted that they were not buried together with human remains.
Another fascinating thing about the cemetery is that none of the animals were noted to have signs of disease, and not mummified as well. This is contradictory to the norm in animal burial sites seen elsewhere in Egypt. “The Berenike cemetery,” as written by the researchers, “reflects different intentions and cultural practices compared to the Nile Valley animal deposits.”
Steven Sidebotham, the director of the excavation, pointed out that considering the extreme situations in which the people lived, the gesture of burying the pets was noteworthy. “ way out on the edge of nowhere. What makes this unique is the very rough circumstances in which these people are living, they still manage to find the time and effort to have companion animals with them.”