The oldest archaeological evidence for domesticated cats was found on the Greek island of Cyprus, where several animal species including cats were introduced by 7500 BC. Further, at the Neolithic site of Shillourokambos, a purposeful cat burial was found next to a human burial, dated between 9500-9200 years before the present.
Up until very recently, most sources believed that domesticated cats became widespread after the Egyptian civilization took its part in the process. One recent paper argues that a cat skeleton discovered in a predynastic tomb (ca. 3700 BC) at Hierakonpolis may be evidence for domestication. The first illustration of a cat with a collar appears on an Egyptian tomb in Saqqara, dated to the 5th dynasty (Old Kingdom, ca 2500-2350 BC). By the 12th dynasty (Middle Kingdom, ca 1976-1793 BC), cats are definitely domesticated, and the animals appear frequently in Egyptian art paintings and mummies.
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