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Chinese Archaeology

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On the emergence of the domestic chicken as seen from finds of bronze chickens in southwestern China

Jinsong Shi
Published Online: 2015-11-19 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/char-2015-0018


This paper focuses on the bronze chickens unearthed in southwestern China dating back to the time from the Shang to the Han Dynasties. Among them, one bronze rooster from the pit No. 2 at the Sanxingdui Site looks similar to domestic chicken in appearance. Since it was unearthed together with bronze birds symbolizing the Sun, we may deduce that the bronze rooster probably symbolizes an idea that rooster crows at sunrise. In addition, most other bronze chickens unearthed in southwestern China are used as staff-head. This pattern perhaps is related to the fact that rooster crows and can be used for timing. The author concludes that the study of these bronze chickens, including their typology and archaeological background within the context of the biological habits of relevant animals as well as corresponding cultural phenomena, can to a certain extent help us identify the species of such animal-shaped artifacts and further supplement the identification criteria of domesticated animals.

Keywords: Ceremonial staffs; domestic chickens-history; Gallus gallus (species)

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Published Online: 2015-11-19

Published in Print: 2015-11-01

Citation Information: Chinese Archaeology, Volume 15, Issue 1, Pages 175–182, ISSN (Online) 2160-5068, ISSN (Print) 2160-5025, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/char-2015-0018.

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© 2015 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin/Boston.Get Permission

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