Chinese archaeologists have unearthed skeletons of six animals
from a tomb that dates back 1,700 years, which they believe shows
that animals used to be buried alive to keep human beings company
in the grave.
A cat, a dog, a pig, a sheep, a buffalo and a deer were
excavated from a tomb in the Three Gorges Reservoir area of central
China's Hubei Province.
"We can tell from the skeleton that the cat was a domestic one,
" said Wu Xianzhu, an archaeologist with Yibin Museum. "It was an
adult cat and its skeleton remains intact."
He said further research is going on to identify the owner of
the tomb and to find out whether the other five animals were his
pets or prey.
No human remains have been found yet in the tomb.
Sacrificial cats are rarely found in ancient tombs although cats
have been kept as pets in China for nearly 1,800 years.
Chinese people traditionally buried fine chinaware pieces and
other valuable items alongside the deceased -- particularly for
people who were rich or enjoyed high social status.
In the remote periods of Chinese history domestic animals and
even concubines were buried alive to keep their masters company in
(Xinhua News Agency August 19, 2006)