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5447Cats on tables in Haifa and Tel Aviv

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  • Eliot Braun
    Jun 30, 2007
      You had me swallow hard and search my memory, until I remember that I eat only fish at such restaurants.I assume that you mean cats coming to eat the food, and not being served up as food in the restaurants on the beaches of Haifa and Tel Aviv. Many years ago there was a scandal in Buffalo NY. A 'Polynesian' restaurant was closed down for serving cat (passed off as more generally acceptable meat).
      Hearty appetite all.

      Eliot Braun, Ph D
      Ha-oren 12, Har Adar, Israel 90836
      Tel. 972-2-5345687
      ----- Original Message -----
      From: BisnoCC@...
      To: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com
      Sent: Saturday, June 30, 2007 7:38 PM
      Subject: Re: [ANE-2] Domestication of the cat in the Near East

      Scarcely a cat in ancient Israel. But today they can be found on the tables
      at any seafood restaurant on the beaches of Haifa and Tel Aviv! Not
      mentioned in the Hebrew Bible that I know of, but probably because there was no
      occasion to do so. Interestingly, however, they were not liked in Mesopotamia at

      In Mesopotamian literature, several types of cats are recognized. In Old
      Babylonian syllabic writing (cuneiform) they were su-a and su-a-ri, and in
      Akkadian, an older form, šu-ra-a-nu, mu-ra-šu-u, and zi-ir-qa-ti. šurânu was a
      housecat, murašu was a wild cat, and those are the two which concern us.
      These and two others are still found in Iraq today.
      Šumma alu means, "If a city" and is a series of omen texts which we know of
      from the 1st millennium BCE. In the 27th tablet of as Šumma alu, there are
      omens containing information for houses and their owners with regard to the
      appearance and behavior of cats, mainly šurânu, housecats, and murašu, wild
      cats. Their appearance, it says, was accompanied by screaming (šasû), wailing
      (damâmu), whining (bakû), vomiting, urinating, defecating, and giving birth.
      They sprung from above and below onto men, chairs, and beds, and they dirtied
      the window sills.
      Housecats were associated with the mongoose; the wild cat with the fox. All
      four of these animals were on a list of harmful animals, having a gloomy
      appearance and were bad omens:
      "When there is a housecat in the house (šurânu), a man will kill a
      There were special purification rites to keep cats away. These rites
      included rituals of cleansing of the owner and spreading gypsum in the house and
      tar on the doors,
      "against the evil of the wild cat which always wails in the house of man."
      In ancient Babylon, the appearance of the wild cat, murašû, was a bad omen.
      The oldest record we possess of a cat in Mesopotamia is an Old Babylonian
      document from Sippar, (šurânu), dating from the 12th year of Hammurabi.
      1 šu-râ-nu-um 1 cat
      The end of the text lists beasts, birds, foxes, and wild cats.
      This Assyrio-Babylonian word was known for a long time from the Feasts of
      Sargon, line 132.
      Marduk apal iddin ". . . runs and climbs like a cat like himself to the wall
      of his enclosure and enters into the fortress."
      There was also a Chaldean cat that lived in the marshes.
      Murašû and murašitû appear as neo-Babylonian personal names. All the
      records which we possess for the housecat (murašû) belong to the 1st millennium
      BCE, as in the course of the 2nd millennium BCE the šurânu came to mean
      housecat as well.
      This reference appears to be independent of the housecat developing from the
      wild cat in Egypt, which was completed by the Middle Kingdom.
      There are no cats depicted in Mesopotamian art. But there is written
      evidence of a cat as a symbol of a deity on an uncompleted kudurru (charter for a
      grant of land) from the 12th century BCE.
      Jay Bisno
      Culver City, CA.

      ************************************** See what's free at http://www.aol.com

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