A group of researchers has recently noticed something out of place on an ancient Roman tile displayed at a museum in England. Although the tile has been there for more than 40 years, no one had notice that imprinted on it was a cat paw print that must have stepped on the tile while it was still fresh and remained there for more than two millenniums.
According to the researchers, the tile was first discovered in 1969 somewhere in Gloucester and has been sitting in the Gloucester City Museum without anyone noticing it had a cat paw print on it. However, recently a researcher noticed that there was some kind of pattern imprinted on the tile while he was searching for some artifacts from the archaeological excavation that occurred in 1969.
The one who noticed the cat paw print on the Roman tile is David Rice, curator at the Gloucester City Museum. He told Discovery News that back then, the archaeologists were probably too busy digging things up and didn’t notice the cat paw print on the tile. Rice believes that the cat must have walked on the wet tile made of clay while it was still left out to dry, the way someone can step in wet cement and the footprint or hand print remains there for a very long time. The cat did this in AD 100, the museum curator believes.
Despite it had a feline paw print on it, the ancient Romans fired the tile known as tegula and used it for the roof of a building located on Berkeley Street in today’s Gloucester. The researchers assume the cat was probably the pet of a Roman soldier who was stationed at the site while the workers were making the tiles.
The tile with the cat paw print on it is now displayed at the Gloucester City Museum and Art Gallery. According to Rice, the cat foot marks are the only example of Roman domestic cats on display at the museum. He believes that there are more cat footprints on ancient Roman tiles found in Britain than anywhere else in the Roman Empire, Italy included. Rice added that the ancient Roman Britons had a special affinity for cats and many of them kept one as a pet.
Although dog paw prints, human footprints and pig foot prints have been found on ancient Roman tiles in Gloucester, cat paw prints are very rare, according to the museum people.
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