IMG_20140914_100418‘Animals and Tombs’ is an enduring theme in my archaeological photography. Over the years, I have accrued photographs of sheep under gravestones, squirrels on gravestones, birds on tombs and snails and butterflies likewise positioned. I have a snap somewhere of a horse under a Neolithic dolmen. Then, there is the experience of the dreaded bulls of Bodowyr….

During my recent visit to the European Association for Archaeologists annual conference, I spent 3 days in over-hot lecture rooms listening to papers on death, and chatting and scheming in meetings with archaeologists and publishers. Over the four evenings I spent my time in cafes, a party, restaurants and many hours walking the streets of Istanbul. I also spent one morning exploring some of the sights on the Golden Horn, including the incredible church/mosque of Hagia Sophia before heading back to the airport.

Istanbul is a city of cats, and I was delighted to spot this particular funerary feline lurking in a medieval Byzantine sarcophagus, part of a large exhibition of spolia at Haphia Sophia. Hidden behind a cafe, this sarcophacat looked particularly narked that I had discovered its hiding place. I retreated before it could lunge…