Chicken is one of the most popular foods around the world, but it wasn’t always this way. Once upon a time, man worshiped chicken and did not eat it. Through the cedar the birds were lured from the trees and domesticated. It all turned out to be much shorter than expected.
Chickens come to our farms for much less time than originally thought. Scientists believe that humans raised chickens to eat them 10,000 years ago. This has now been revised to 3,500 years ago, so somewhere around 1500 BC.
Radiocarbon dating has enabled researchers from the universities of Exeter, Oxford and Cardiff to determine the age of 23 of the first surviving chickens found in western Eurasia and northwest Africa. Most of the bones turned out to be much older than initially thought. According to the scientists, this dating “gives us the clearest picture yet of our early interactions with chickens.”
Together, the scientists re-examined chicken remains from more than 600 sites in 89 countries. They found that the oldest domesticated chicken bones were in the Neolithic village of Ban Non Wat in central Thailand dating between 1650 and 1250 BC.
The chicken is originally from the tropical jungles of Southeast Asia. They were birds that lived high in the trees in the forest. It has been touched by humans by growing dry rice. Cedar attracted chickens down from the trees, and so the domestication of chickens began. They settled in Europe only around 800 BC, first in the Mediterranean, via the early Greek, Etruscan, and Phoenician traders. Then, it took almost 1,000 years for them to be established in colder climates like Scotland, Ireland, Scandinavia and Iceland as well.
According to Professor Greger Larson of the University of Oxford, “This shows how wrong we have been in understanding when and where chickens were domesticated.” But Larson finds it particularly striking that “dry rice cultivation acted as a catalyst for both the domestication of chickens and their worldwide spread.”
Initially, people kept chicken not as a food, but as a food that had been revered even for centuries. Chicken and its eggs only began to spread as food during the Roman Empire.
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