How the chicken crossed the Red Sea
July 17, 2019 12:42 PM   Subscribe

Asst. Professor of Anthropology Dr. Helina Woldekiros studies ancient chicken bones. Her research spans the discovery of the earliest known instances of domesticated chickens arriving in Africa via ancient trade routes from Asia, as well as the development of a long legged meatier thighed African chicken preferred for courtship rituals.
posted by Mrs Potato (6 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
 
Chickens are not mentioned in the Old Testament.
They are mentioned in the New Testament.

And the Hebrew word for them is a Sumerian loanword.
Sumerian.
posted by ocschwar at 3:05 PM on July 17 [4 favorites]


I wonder late at night if Woldekiros decides to cast the bones?
posted by BlueHorse at 7:36 PM on July 17


Chickens are not mentioned in the Old Testament.

I know, it's weird, right? I don't have an answer, except maybe they weren't imported at that time.
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:51 AM on July 18


I know, it's weird, right? I don't have an answer, except maybe they weren't imported at that time.

It's in the archaeological record, too. Throughout the Mediterranean, chicken remains are much less common in earlier Iron Age deposits than in the Hellenistic to Roman Eras and beyond. Maybe relating to the availability of surplus grain or for the increased cultural importance of chickens as food or as a status symbol, I dunno. But the New Testament was certainly written in a more chickeny era.
posted by Rust Moranis at 11:56 AM on July 18 [1 favorite]


Speculation: (old timey) chickens are more efficient as a source of eggs than meat, and people weren't used to eating that many eggs back then. The niche for "meal-sized food animal" was filled by pigeons which are better at scavenging, particularly in urban areas, because they can fly.
posted by Joe in Australia at 1:44 PM on July 18 [1 favorite]


An indication of the scale of pigeon-rearing in pre-modern Judaea:
The national park is replete with 85 columbarium caves, once used for raising doves and still inhabited by many pigeons. We visited the main Columbarium, the most impressive of the Tel Maresha caves, dug in the third century BCE. Some 2,000 nesting niches are carved into the Columbarium, reflecting the ancient premium put on their meat, eggs, dung and value as sacrificial offerings.
[source]
And that's presumably well into the chicken era.
posted by Joe in Australia at 1:51 PM on July 18 [1 favorite]


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