|Article caption: "A detail from a 1615 painting by Jan Brueghel the Elder shows multicolored guinea pigs. PAINTING BY JAN BRUEGHEL THE ELDER, STAPLETON COLLECTION/CORBIS" (source: National Geographic News)|
The National Geographic article discusses how archaeologists dated guinea pig bones in Belgium to the 16th or 17th centuries, soon after the Spanish made contact with South America (where guinea pigs originated).
Looking at a variety of evidence, the article claims that guinea pigs were mostly kept as pets in Europe, and were not just pets for the upper-classes. The only other guinea pig skeleton from the 16th century in Europe was found in a wealthy manor in England, leading archaeologists to think guinea pigs may only have been a pet for the rich. However, this new evidence suggests otherwise.
So even in 16th-century Europe, people knew what great pets we are!