The social and cultural importance of chickens is demonstrated amply by their worldwide representation in art, literature, material culture and by their incorporation into religious beliefs and expressions of identity. As such, chickens represent a nexus for interdisciplinarity, with the potential to provide reseacrch of the highest value for a range of different audiences.
Domestication is a high-profile topic but little attention given to the domestication of the chicken from an archaeological perspective, especially by comparison to the other major domesticates. We would be interested in helping students to investigate this issue. (Anticipated research fields: archaeology, genetics, isotopic analyses).
Diffusion of the chicken
Although chickens are one of the world's most widely established species, the timing, circumstance and rationale for their spread are little understood. We are keen to hear from students interested in tackling, for a discrete area of the globe, the issue of when, how and why chickens became established. (Anticipated research fields: archaeology, (art) history, genetics, isotopic and lipid analyses)
Chicken exploitation: meat, eggs, feathers, cock-fighting, magic, medicine or divination?
In the western world chickens are a valueable source of protein, providing both meat and eggs but these are not the only commodities for which chickens have been exploited. In the past, and in the present, chickens have prpvided a wide range of economic, ideological, supernatural and sensory resources (for instance there is a growing trend towards keeping chickens as pets). Understanding their role has the potential to provide important insights into the worldview of socities past and present. (Anticipated research fields: anthropology, archaeology, (art) history, isotopic and lipid analyses)
Of all the domestic animals, the chicken is represented by the greatest number of distinct breeds. However, little is know about when these different types began to proliferate. Size and shape studies of modern and archaaeological chicken remains offer an important avenue to answer this question, particularly when combined with art historical studies. We are keen to hear from students interested in tackling this issue for a discrete region and time period. (Anticipated research fields: archaeology, (art) history, osteometrics, geometric morphometrics)
Material culture of chickens
From coops to egg-cups, spoons to cock-spurs the material culture of chicken-keeping is rich but under-researched. We are keen to support students interested in investigating chicken paraphernalia from any period or place. (Anticipated research fields: anthropology, archaeology, (art) history, isotopic and lipid analyses)
The religious significance of chickens
Symbolism of chicken in world religion. What roles do chickens play and how does this vary between different faiths (e.g. Pagan, Christian, Jewish, Islamic). What might this variation reflect? This topic would suit a range of disciplines within the arts and humanities.
Landscapes and environment
Chickens have the capacity to transform the physical landscape but they can also impact on how space is used and perceived. We are interested in investigating how the impact of chickens on both ancient and modern landscapes and the (built) environment.
Role of chickens in the construction of personal, social and cultural identities.