Archeologists find animals buried alive 1,700 years ago alongside man

Updated: 2007-04-16 07:39

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 the grave.

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