Friday, 11 October 2013

Why did the chicken cross the road? Archaeologists are about to find out...

You may have noticed there's been a lot of news concerning chickens lately, and it's for a good reason. A new research project looking at the history of chickens is hoping to shed light on how the relationship between people and chickens has developed over the last 8,000 years. The project will see researchers dive into archaeological records to investigate the history of the world’s most widely established livestock species, which is descended from the wild jungle fowl of South-East Asia.
The project will also investigate the ancient and modern cultural significance of the birds in, for example, religious rituals and cockfighting. Research will include metrical and DNA analysis of modern and ancient chicken bones to trace the development of different breeds. The results of the research will form the basis of a series of exhibitions in museums and other venues throughout the UK making up ‘The Chicken Trail’ that will tell the story of the chicken’s domestication in Europe and there are also plans to display some of the research findings in butcher shops. The project, entitled “Cultural and Scientific Perceptions of Human-Chicken Interactions”, was made possible with the help of a £1.94 million grant from the AHRC under the Science In Culture Awards Large Grants call. The project will also involve collaboration with academic colleagues across Europe and with poultry breeders and other interested members of the public.

Researchers from Bournemouth University, as well as the Universities of Durham, Nottingham, Leicester, Roehampton and York, will be examining when and how rapidly domesticated chickens spread across Europe and the history of their exploitation for meat and eggs. Bournemouth University is also offering two fully-funded PhD studentships on the subject - 'The Ecology of Chickens Past and Present' and 'Chickens and Archaeological Material Culture'.

These studentships are two of nine that are associated with the Cultural and Scientific Perception of Human-Chicken Interactions Project. This project is largely funded by the AHRC Science in Culture Large Grants scheme but, in addition, seven PhD studentships have been fully funded by four of the six universities involved in the project.

For further details of the projects and how to apply visit the Bournemouth University Graduate School website.  

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