University of Leicester
Development+of+chicken+landraces+in+the+Horn+of+Africa_May+2+2019.pdf (291.77 kB)
Download file

Archaeological and biometric perspectives on the development of chicken landraces in the Horn of Africa.

Download (291.77 kB)
journal contribution
posted on 2019-07-03, 11:07 authored by H Wolderikos, AC D'Andrea, R Thomas, A Foster, O Lebrasseur, H Miller, J Roberts, N Sykes
Domestic chickens (Gallus gallus domesticus L., 1758) were integrated into agricultural systems in the Horn of Africa as early as the pre‐Aksumite period (c. 2,500 years ago), after they were introduced from Asia through land and maritime trade and exchange. In this paper, we explore the development of chicken landraces in this region by examining continuity and change in chicken body size. Specifically, we compare the measurements of chicken bones dating from 800 BCE to 400 BCE from the pre‐Aksumite site of Mezber in northern Ethiopia, with those of modern chickens (of known age and sex) from northern Ethiopia and a population of known age and sex cross‐bred red junglefowl (Gallus gallus L., 1758), curated at the Natural History Museum at Tring (UK). Considered together, these datasets provide insight into African poultry development and offer the first metrical baselines of chickens with known history in the region. Thus, this study has the potential to underpin future studies of domestic fowl morphology in Africa.


This work was supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, UK (Grants AH/L006979/1, AH/P009018/1, and AH/R003998/1). We thank the communities of Mesert village and Enderta district for their hospitality during our fieldwork. We especially thank Ato Yishak Desta Hadush for introducing us to the community. Permission for research was granted by the ARCCH (Authority for Research and Conservation of Cultural Heritage), Addis Ababa, the Tigrai Culture and Tourism Agency, Mekelle, and the Agricultural Research Institute of Mekelle. We also thank Ato Shumuye Belay and Dr Zelealem (Institute of Agricultural Research, Mekelle) for their support through all phases of the work. Thanks also go to Ato Adebabay, ILRI representative and researcher, and to Dr Jo Cooper (Natural History Museum, Tring) for facilitating access to the collection.



International Journal of Osteoarchaeology, 2019

Author affiliation

/Organisation/COLLEGE OF SOCIAL SCIENCES, ARTS AND HUMANITIES/School of Archaeology and Ancient History/Core Staff


  • AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Published in

International Journal of Osteoarchaeology





Acceptance date


Copyright date


Publisher version


The file associated with this record is under embargo until 12 months after publication, in accordance with the publisher's self-archiving policy. The full text may be available through the publisher links provided above.



Usage metrics

    University of Leicester Publications