October 22, 2012
Stray Cat Explorer Credited With Ancient Roman Tomb Discovery
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
Although curiosity may sometimes kill the cat, in this case it won a feline accreditation for helping to discover ancient catacombs in Rome.Mirko Curti and a friend followed a stray feline into an ancient Roman tomb that dates back more than 2,000 years.
They said they followed the sound of a cat meowing into the cave's small opening, which was originally guarded by rocks until heavy rain caused them to fall away earlier in the week.
“The cat managed to get into a grotto and we followed the sound of its meowing,” Curti told the Guardian.
The human and feline explorers walked into a tomb filled with human bones, surrounded by ancient Roman funeral urns.
Archeologists believe the cave dates back between the first century B.C., and the second century A.D.
They believe that the bones likely fell into the tomb from a chamber higher up in the cliff, and that the area discovered by the cat and its companions were used to store ashes in urns.
Soft tufa rocks had been used for digging tombs over the centuries in Italy, but its softness means that ancient sites are threatened by the elements.
Curti told The Guardian that he was amazed to wander into a tomb so close to his house, saying it was "the most incredible experience," of his life.