On 1 Feb 1996, Judith Weingarten wrote:
We had much the same discussion on AegeaNet last September. As I was interested, I filed some of the information. I cite below Carole Stock who summed up (and I suggest that anyone who wishes more details check with her) as follows:
"I was asked if I would share with the list the information sent me on this topic, and I am pleased to do so.
The following are excerpts from the messages that included citations available to me. Several other people sent their recollections, but if these were not documented, did not cover Egypt, or duplicated other sources I did not include them. If anyone has a compelling reason for them I will happily send you the entire contents of all the messages off-list. Please let me know.
David Reese told me some time ago that there might be good evidence for chickens in the Peloponnese as early as the Middle Bronze Age from sites such as Ayios Stephanos and Lerna in the form of both bones and shells, but I can't remember the specific details. Those interested might want to consult him further: David S. Reese, Dept. of Anthropology, Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, Illinois (no e-mail address available).
Jack Davis has reminded me that Paul Halstead and Glynis Jones have discussed the possibility of chickens being present in the Aegean since Neolithic times in A. Sampson, E neolithike periodos sta Dodekanesa (Athens 1987) 135-145.
I recall a reference that Thutmose III received as diplomatic gifts after one of his campaigns in Syria, a bird that lays an egg daily. That would be the chicken. So Early Dynasty XVIII is when it first arrived in Egypt, and that would square with all your other citations. This entry should be from the annals of Thutmose III, that were published in the Urkunden series.
Frank J. Yurco
University of Chicago
On these last 3 items, I had deleted the source names before I printed out a work file. I do have that information on the complete messages.
You might want to take a look at: Houlihan and Goodman, The Birds of Ancient Egypt, Warminster, 1986, pp 79-81 No. 40 Red Junglefowl (Gallus gallus) for a discussion of the ostracon mentioned by Gay Robins. It has been described elsewhere as just "a rooster" but the commentary in this book is about as exhaustive as possible.
some informations about chickens in ancient Egypt I have found in our institute in Marburg:
- Kurt Sethe, Die aelteste Erwaehnung des Haushuhns in einem aegyptischen Text; in: Festschrift Karl Andreas. Leipzig: 1916, p. 109-116
- "Annalentext", New Kingdom, hieroglyphic text in: K. Sethe, Urkunden des Neuen Reiches Band IV., p. 700, 13- 14).
- Howard Carter, An ostracon depicting a red jungle-fowl. (The earliest known drawing of the domestic cock.); in: Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 9 (1923), p. 1- 4, pl. XX.1. He describes a limestone ostraca found in Lord Carnarvon's excavations in the Valley of the Kings in Thebes, No. 341 (now in the British museum, EA ???).
- from: Wolfgang Helck, Eberhard Otto (Hrsg.), Lexikon der Aegyptologie, Band II (Erntefest - Hordjedef). Wiesbaden: 1977, Sp. 504 [Gefluegel]
Information Egyptologists get about Deir el-Medina is from receipts on limestone ostraca - not from excavations as far as I know - so I fear there are no chicken bones in an archaeological context.
There is an ostrakon in the British Museum (EA 68539) that preserves a lively drawing of a rooster. It comes from the Valley of the Kings and dates to the Ramesside period, and was no doubt drawn by one of the artists of Deir el-Medina. It is reproduced in W.H. Peck and J.G. Ross, Drawings from Ancient Egypt, no.118."
So is it possible to distinguish the bones of a domestic chicken from a wild chicken? I believe there are structural differences in the leg bones of wild and domestic cattle, sheep, goats, etc.
Lester Ness email@example.com