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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.Derivation: The word ‘pigeon’ is derived from the Latin word ‘pipio’, meaning ‘young cheeping bird’. Mention of pigeon sacrifices can also be found in both the Old Testament and the New Testament.The word ‘dove’ is of Norse origin and first appeared in the 14th century as ‘dova’ or ‘douve’. The pigeon is probably best known for its ability to return ‘home’ from long distances and has been used extensively by man for this purpose. Predation: The wild pigeon is predated upon, almost exclusively, by the peregrine falcon, a bird that is also found living and breeding in coastal regions. Life Expectancy: Varies greatly from 3-5 years through to 15 years dependent on many factors, including natural predation and human interference. Wood pigeons have a varied diet which includes vegetables and berries.
It was at this time that Neolithic man was starting to cultivate cereal crops and domesticate animals for food.The Romans and ancient Greeks used the pigeon extensively for carrying messages and the first sophisticated messaging service was established in Syria and Persia in the 12th century AD, with messages being carried by pigeons from city to city.Later, in the 19th century, the pigeon was used for commercial purposes, carrying messages for financial institutions and news agencies in Europe and even providing an airmail service in New Zealand.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.
This confirms that the pigeon was being bred in dedicated facilities over 2200 years ago.