At a construction site in the UK, builders discovered a curious and rather adorable sample of Roman life in Britain: a 2,000-year-old tile that was perfectly imprinted with a cat paw, serving as further evidence that cats have been curious jerks hellbent on annoying their humans for at least two millennia.
The red clay roof tile was dug up during the construction of a road in Lincolnshire, UK. It’s believed the tile was probably laid out to dry in the sun and a cat walked across it, leaving an imprint of its paw in an accidental mold (or their own Mann's Chinese Theater depending on whether you are the annoyed human or the pleased cat). It’s also good to see cat behavior hasn’t changed much over the millennia either.
The Roman Empire appeared to have a strong affinity for domesticated cats, almost as much as the ancient Egyptians and the 21st-century human. Archaeological evidence shows that cats were part of everyday life in ancient Roman cities. It’s most likely they used them as pest control, to hunt down rats and mice. Strangely, even today, stray cats are partial to hanging out around the Largo di Torre Argentina, the temple in Rome where Julius Caesar was infamously killed in 44 BCE.
"Many of us have pets and animals nowadays so you can see nothing has changed,” Ruben Lopez, Lincolnshire site manager from Network Archaeology Ltd, told BBC News. "It is exciting, this site here is one in a thousand. You identify with finds like this. We are used to it, of course, it's our job, but it is always exciting to find something like this."
Since the team began working on this road last year, they have discovered a whole host of incredible archeological finds, including up to 150 Saxon skeletons and dozens of more tiles. This suggests the area might have been home to a complex of buildings around 100 CE.
This isn’t the first time a stray paw has been found on roof tiles from another age, either. Previous excavations in the UK have revealed ancient Roman tiles that had been imprinted on by a dog's paw, a pig's trotter, and a deer hoof while waiting to set.