Keramiekos Cemetery is just outside the walls that bordered the ancient city of Athens. Here lay the prominent citizens who were honoured with a burial at public expense. Thus, their tombs and markers were far above the norm. For this reason, many of the relics are now in Athens’ premier archaeology museum.
Even so, the small Kerameikos museum houses a handful of beautiful originals. Also, full-scale replicas of the museum pieces are placed in-situ, giving visitors a true sense of the layout and scale of this important historical cemetery.
The most touching is a 430-420 BC relief from a grave near the Sacred Gate. It depicts a woman named Ampharete with her grandchild. The inscription reads;
which I held on my knees when we were alive
and saw the light of the sun
and now, dead, I hold it dead.”
Whereas we had become accustomed to cats roaming among the architectural sites - as if they are Athens’ answer to cat sanctuaries - this was not the case at Kerameikos. We saw not a single cat, strangely. Rather, we had the surprise of finding wild turtles making their way among the ruins. This got me thinking; why are cats “feral” but other creatures “free-range” or “wild”?
Even around the busy streets of tourist markets and restaurants, and on embassy row there are clean & well-fed (looking) cats casually making their way about Athens.
At lunch one day a sweet little tuxedo kitty sat near us, a silent as a sphinx. So polite it was that I tossed over a small piece of my chicken souvlaki. The cat daintily ate it up and then continued to sit silently the whole time we ate our meal.
On the other hand, almost immediately after my chicken toss another cat was at our side. Indeed we could hear it before we could see it. This noisy beggar was highly annoying reminder of what I very well know and ought not to have disregarded; Do NOT feed the wildlife.