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Stray Cat Discovers 2000-Year-Old Roman Catacomb

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Oct 21, 2012 03:23 PM EDT

A stray cat has helped two residents of Rome to discover a 2000-year-old catacomb piled with bones, reported the Guardian.

Mirko Curti and his friend Raymond Turnu found the ancient tomb in rock cliffs, while chasing a stray cat Tuesday night. The cat led them to the cliff located close to Curti's apartment building in Via di Pietralata, Rome.

"The cat managed to get into a grotto and we followed the sound of its miaowing," Curti told the Guardian.

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They entered a small opening and found themselves in front of the tomb with hundreds of bones scattered around. Both Curti and Turnu were amazed to find a catacomb close to their house and said it was "the most incredible experience of their lives."

Archaeologists who were called to assess the discovery estimated that the catacomb (chamber used as a burial place) likely dates back to years between the 1st century B.C. and the 2nd century A.D.

They conceived that the human bones could have dropped from a burial place higher up in the cliff. According to the researchers, heavy rains earlier in the week could have caused the rock that covers the entrance to the tomb to collapse.

Rome is one of the places to find some of the oldest catacombs in the world. More than 60 miles of catacombs run underneath the town and its outskirts, Adriano Morabito, president of the association Roma Sotterranea (Underground Rome), once told the National Geographic.

He told the website that there are more number of catacombs that are either scarcely explored or completely lost.

Researchers involved in the new discovery have closed the tomb for safety reasons. Head archaeologist Paola Filippini said they will survey the remains with anthropologists to find the precise date of the bones, a report in La Repubblica said.

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