10 April 2004

Cypriot 'first nations'

It seems rather amusing that Cyprus should contain the earliest evidence that human beings kept cats as pets, since nowadays throughout the entire Greek-speaking world cats appear to be regarded largely as nuisances. They wander around the neighbourhoods, seemingly belonging to no one, and when people see them they shoo them away. But apparently Cypriots' remote ancestors esteemed cats.

Who were these aboriginal Cypriots? They were probably not Greeks, as the Greeks arrived in Cyprus around 12 centuries before Christ, and people had already been living there for more than 6 thousand years. It seems more likely that their culture was related to those of the Asiatic or African mainlands closest to the island. My wife has suggested to me that, since the Egyptians were known to regard cats as sacred animals, there might have been an ancient connection between the cultures of the Nile and of Cyprus. If Linear A is ever decyphered, it might yield clues as to who the aboriginal inhabitants of Cyprus were.

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