There is a debate as to whether the first domesticated bird was the pigeon or the chicken, but historical evidence shows that the world’s oldest domesticated bird most probably was a rock pigeon. Mesopotamian tablets mention the domestication of pigeons more than 5,000 years ago, as do Egyptian hieroglyphics. Research suggests that domestication of pigeons occurred as early as 10,000 years ago. There are various figurines, mosaics, and coins that have portrayed the domestic pigeon since at least 4500 B.C. in Mesopotamia.
In many cultures, doves and pigeons have been raised as pets for thousands of years and even used as sacrifices to appease the Gods. In most religions of the world, pigeons and doves are loved and respected, and accorded a special place. In Christianity, dove has come to represent the symbol of Holy Spirit. Because of people hunting them for food, some of the species of doves and pigeons have either become extinct or are considered as threatened. Doves and pigeons were the only birds suitable for sacrifice by the Hebrews. (Leviticus 1:14.) The dove appears as a symbol of purity on the Holy Grail in Malory’s Morte d’Arthur. As a symbol of the Holy Spirit, the dove is associated with the mystical fifth element of spirit. In Muslim lore, a dove murmured the words of God into the ear of Muhammad.