Friday, 5 April 2013

Discovery of Cat Paw Prints on 15th-Century Manuscript

According to an historian, a Medieval cat literally walked through history, leaving its paw prints on a 15th-century Croatian manuscript. Emir Filipović, a research assistant at the University of Sarajevo, happened to be thumbing through the manuscript when he noticed the inky paw prints.

“It’s not very often that a researcher can come across curious things while sifting through monotonous and dull archival registers,” Filipović said. He shared the above image on Twitter, and news about the find spread. The manuscript’s text had nothing to do with cats, but instead was a rather dry Republic of Dubrovnik letter to traders and nobles.

“The document on which prints were made dates from March 11, 1445,” Filipović said. “The prints were most likely made while the document was being made, or some time then…but the possibility that they were made later cannot be excluded.” 

He added, “While the writer was writing the document a cat probably passed by him and since the paint was near the book…the cat spilled it, dipped his paws in it and passed over the document and thus left its trace in history.”

Based on the prints, it looks like the cat marched on the manuscript, coming from the left, and then made a left turn on the right page before stepping off. It was just a mundane, typical house-cat moment, but one that might have been preserved for hundreds of years.

While looking through other old books and texts, Filipović has spotted doodles, fungi, wormholes and various incidental, yet eye-catching, elements on ancient pages. Sometimes, as for these paw prints, the secondary elements gain more fame than the finely crafted text.

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