Latin Name: Columba livia (‘dove’ or ‘bird of leaden or blue-grey colour’). Although images of the pigeon have been found dating as far back as 3000 BC, it is not clear what role the pigeon played in these ancient civilisations and to what extent the bird was domesticated.
Common Names: Pigeon, dove, blue rock pigeon, rock dove, wild rock pigeon, rock pigeon, feral pigeon. Later, in 1100 BC, King Rameses III sacrificed 57,000 pigeons to the god Ammon at Thebes, confirming that the pigeon was well on the way to being domesticated not only for food but also for religious purposes.
The sparrowhawk may also predate on the wild pigeon.
However, it is likely that rock doves were domesticated by Neolithic man as far back as 10,000 years ago in and around the alluvial plains of the Tigris and Euphrates.
Characteristics and Attributes: The first mention of the domestication of the rock dove was found in Mesopotamian cuneiform tablets (pictographical writing on clay tablets) dating back over 5000 years.
The tradition of housing pigeons in man-made structures continued until the 20th century and is described in more detail in the Dovecotes article.
The pigeon was domesticated not only for its ability to return home and as a source of food and by-products, but also for the purposes of sport.