Smithsonian archaeologist Dr. Melinda Zeder studies the domestication of plants and animals in the ancient Near East. Her research traces the steps by which people went from hunting and collecting wild resources to managing and domesticating them.
"Domesticated plants and animals arrived on Cyprus around 8500 BC. This date suggests that the process of domestication on the mainland was more advanced at that time than scholars had previously thought. Now archaeologists need to take a new look at how humans in the Near East were managing their environment—long before those early colonists left home to begin new lives on Cyprus."
At Shillourokambos in 2004, French archaeologists discovered a grave dating to about 7300 BC. In addition to its human occupant, the grave contained the skeleton of a large cat. This may be evidence of the earliest domestication of a cat—or at least a strong association between cats and humans—more than 3,000 years before cats were domesticated in Egypt.