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Edward Standall,      University of Nottingham

Finger-lickin’ good? The avoidance and consumption of chickens in Iron Age and Roman England

 

In his volume, The Gallic War, Caesar wrote that the ancient Britons ‘do not regard it lawful to eat the hare, and the cock, and the goose’ (1989: v. 12). The zooarchaeological evidence would appear to confirm this suggestion – that chickens were not eaten by people in Iron Age England. My dissertation aims to investigate whether pottery studies, in particular lipid analysis, can be used to provide direct evidence to support or refute the idea that chicken flesh was avoided prior to the Roman Conquest.

 

The goal of my dissertation is to recreate late Iron Age pottery that was in use before the Roman invasion in the first century AD. Once these pots have been fired they will then be used to cook chicken (meat, skin and eggs) in several different ways (frying, boiling etc.); this will allow the lipids from the chicken to be absorbed into the fabric of the pottery. Once this has been done the pottery will be buried and recovered at set intervals to be used to determine whether the chicken lipids appear in the pottery. By conducting this experiment the project will have a set of data that can be used in future study of the consumption of chicken in Iron Age/Roman Britain.

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