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The internets tells me that the first documented Persian-types were imported into Italy in the 1600s. XD

I also read that genetic research into the modern Persian shows it is, ancestrally, related to cats from Western Europe and not Asia.

I don't think the Persian, in any recognizable modern form, has been around since 500 BC. There may have been long-haired cats in that area at that time, but they weren't Persian cats as we know them.
 

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The Vikings were trading in the Middle East in the dark ages and during medieval times. If long haired cats were evolving to survive Scandinavian and Russian winters, it's entirely possible that some of those same cats made it to Persia via the trade routes down to the Black Sea by way of modern Kiev, perhaps on boats as ratters.
A lot of the fanciful stories about cat breeds need to be taken with a huge grain of salt! For example, cats with colourpoint markings were not restricted to royal palaces and temples in what is now Thailand.
 
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