Paleogenomics pp 307-324 | Cite as

Of Cats and Men: Ancient DNA Reveals How the Cat Conquered the Ancient World

  • Eva-Maria Geigl
  • Thierry Grange
Part of the Population Genomics book series (POGE)


Neither genetics and genomics of modern cats nor archeology could so far reconstruct the domestication and dispersal process of the cat. It was only known that all domestic cats belong to the subspecies Felis silvestris lybica, that their genomes are close to the ones of wildcats, and that they were translocated to Cyprus by the Neolithic farmers who colonized this island roughly 9,500 years ago. The results of our large-scale paleogenetic study of the mitochondrial DNA of archeological cat remains fill the existing gaps in that they allowed us to reconstruct the history of the dispersal of the cat starting in Southwest Asia during the Neolithic and achieving a new quality in Egypt during the 1st millennium BCE. Together with those from Southwest Asia, these mitochondrial lineages from Egypt showed up in samples from the following centuries all over Southwest Asia, North Africa, and Europe, testifying of the cat’s conquest of the ancient world. The dispersal pattern that we reconstructed from our data tells us that cats accompanied seafarers throughout history on their trading and raiding routes.


Ancient DNA Cat dispersal Domestication Genetics 



We would like to thank an anonymous reviewer for his/her interesting propositions.


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institut Jacques Monod, CNRS, UMR 7592University Paris DiderotParisFrance

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