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Redefining the timing and circumstances of the chicken's introduction to Europe and north-west Africa

Best, Julia ORCID:, Doherty, Sean, Armit, Ian, Boev, Zlatozar, Büster, Lindsey, Cunliffe, Barry, Foster, Alison, Frimet, Ben, Hamilton-Dyer, Sheila, Higham, Tom, Lebrasseur, Ophélie, Miller, Holly, Peters, Joris, Seigle, Michaël, Skelton, Caroline, Symmons, Rob, Thomas, Richard, Trentacoste, Angela, Maltby, Mark, Larson, Greger and Sykes, Naomi 2022. Redefining the timing and circumstances of the chicken's introduction to Europe and north-west Africa. Antiquity 96 (388) , pp. 868-882. 10.15184/aqy.2021.90

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Little is known about the early history of the chicken (Gallus gallus domesticus), including the timing and circumstances of its introduction into new cultural environments. To evaluate its spatio-temporal spread across Eurasia and north-west Africa, the authors radiocarbon dated 23 chicken bones from presumed early contexts. Three-quarters returned dates later than those suggested by stratigraphy, indicating the importance of direct dating. The results indicate that chickens did not arrive in Europe until the first millennium BC. Moreover, a consistent time-lag between the introduction of chickens and their consumption by humans suggests that these animals were initially regarded as exotica and only several centuries later recognised as a source of ‘food’.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Published Online
Status: Published
Schools: History, Archaeology and Religion
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISSN: 0003-598X
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 27 October 2022
Date of Acceptance: 24 May 2021
Last Modified: 11 May 2023 13:20

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