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Counting Roman chickens: Multidisciplinary approaches to human-chicken interactions in Roman Britain

Maltby, Mark, Allen, Martyn, Best, Julia, Fothergill, B. Tyr and Demarchi, Beatrice 2018. Counting Roman chickens: Multidisciplinary approaches to human-chicken interactions in Roman Britain. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 19 , pp. 1003-1015. 10.1016/j.jasrep.2017.09.013

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This paper discusses some of the approaches and results from two multi-disciplinary projects. The first is the AHRC-funded ‘Cultural and Scientific Perceptions of Human-Chicken Interactions’ Project. This is investigating the history of the exploitation of chickens in Europe. The second is the Leverhulme Trust-funded ‘Rural Settlement of Roman Britain’ Project, which has collated evidence from excavation reports from thousands of sites. This paper updates the evidence for the exploitation of chickens in Roman Britain, showing that there were significant variations in the abundance of chicken bones found on different types of settlement. There was also a modest increase in their abundance during the Roman period suggesting chickens became slightly more frequent contributors to the diet, albeit still only a rare commodity. However, they continued to be frequently represented in graves, shrines and other ritual deposits. The paper also discusses evidence of egg production and avian osteopetrosis, demonstrating that when traditional zooarchaeological research is integrated with scientific analyses, a deeper understanding of past human diet can be acquired.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: History, Archaeology and Religion
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 2352-409X
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 14 October 2020
Date of Acceptance: 17 September 2017
Last Modified: 10 Oct 2021 15:08

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