This project explores the history of chickens, the world’s most widespread and abundant domestic animal. By integrating the research interests and expertise of scientists with those of scholars in the arts and humanities, we will investigate the origins and dispersal of domestic chickens and their role in human culture in the past, present, and future. Our trans-disciplinary research team will integrate the results of a wide range of methods to develop a unique and comprehensive understanding of the complex and varied relationships between humans and chickens.
More specifically, this project will demonstrate how scientific approaches can make significant contributions to answering research questions often perceived to lie principally in the domain of the humanities. For instance, questions about human ritual and status can benefit from the resolution provided by isotopic and DNA results that can yield significant insights into the morphological characteristics and geographic origins of chicken remains, thus providing significant new information that can be compared with anthropological knowledge. Equally, this project will show the necessity of having a historical and human context for interpreting scientific results. By collaborating closely to study the role of chickens in human societies, from their domestication to the present and beyond, this project will enable scientists and humanities researchers to adapt and enhance their research methods to meet the challenges set by each other.