Evidence for Dove Breeding in the Iron Age: A Newly Discovered Dovecote at ‘Ain al-Baida/‘Amman*

Randa Kakish


This paper presents new evidence for dove breeding in the vicinity of ‘Amman during the late Iron Age. A rescue excavation, carried out by the author between the 3rd and 13th of July 2011, identified an underground dovecote (columbarium) at the site of ‘Ain al-Baida near Khirbet Musalam. Raising doves for food, as sacrificial animals, for communication and pleasure or even for magic or oracular prophecies was wide-spread in the ancient world, where man was able to attract wild doves with food and a safe place to nest. What might be considered a “dove cultivation industry” was known in Egypt and the Middle East from as long as agriculture has been practiced. The discovery of an Ammonite dovecote at the site of ‘Ain al-Baida raises questions concerning the date of similar structures in Jordan.


‘Ain al-Baida, Dovecote, Columbarium, Iron Age.

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