Hunting birds in Israel and the Fertile Crescent

Fowling and traps in the land of Israel and in the Fertile Crescent

In ancient times hunting birds was a common practice, relief and murals show hunting birds from Assyria kingdom in
the north all the way to antiquity Egypt in south. Description of hunting and tools of hunt, appear in the ancient writings.
Opinos, a Greek poet from Manabzros in Kilikia wrote in the third century a studious poem on hunting birds. ...Indeed, birds hunter
enjoy thier work as well, because the birds hunters will not carry a sword or a slaughtering knife or a spear of copper, it's the
hawk that will accompany them in their vagrant in the forests, and the longs bonds, and yellow sticky birds glue,and bulrush which
open pathway in the air...
Dionisios Priants who lived in Alexandria in the first half of the second century AC, reports on hunting birds by glue.
The hunting of birds or fowling is so often referred or alluded to in the Bible or in the Talmud (writing of sages of blessed memory)
to that it must have been very widely practiced. ...Can a birds fall in a snare upon the earth where no gin is for him?
shall one take up a snare from the earth, and have taken nothing talls... ( Amos III:5).
...Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the flower...(Psalm, XCI, 13).
...Our soul is escaped as a bird out of the snare of the fowlers: the snare is broken, and we are escaped...(Psalm, CXXVI, 7).
...Surely in vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird... (Proverbe, I, 17)
...Deliver thyself as a roe from the hand, and as a bird from the hand of the fowler...(Proverbe, VI, 5).
...As the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare... (Ecclesiastes, X, 12).
In contrast To these References the traps' names did not remind birds' names. The only bird specifically mentioned is the partridge,
...As when pme doth hant a partridge in the mountains..(I Samue,XXVII, 20).
The method of hunting according to Tristram A British theologies and nature investigator who investigate the animals of the land of
Israel, by comparing his findings to the Bible, at the end of the 19' century. This matter is still to prevalent.
...continual pursuit until the creature is struck down by sticks thrown along the ground...but the interpretation is uncertain.
The second poultry that serves as food is reminded twice is the Common Quail, but it is not reminded as hunting poultry.
Common Quail landed twice, after Iyyar (May) 15th and the second time after Iyyar 2oth, the landing of Common Quail on beaches
of Sinai desert happens at the beginning of month Elul (September) and continues to Tishrei (September) and Heshvan (October)
months. It returns from Africa in Shvat.(February) and Adar (March). What this means is that, the landing of the Common Quail did
not happen in the proper timing. in other words a miracle happened, and collecting the Common Quails was not a predicted hunt.

Generally, birds are caught and captured by various snares. In the majority of the evidences the tool of the hunt and the capturing
method are mentioned. Two bible verses at in this point: ...For he is cast into a net by his own feet, and he walketh upon a snare.
The gin shall take by the heel, the robber, shall prevail against him. The snare is laid for him in the ground, and a trap for him in the way...(Job, XVIII,80).
Six words mark capturing means: net, grille, snare, braid, rope, and trap. It might be that the word snare (Amos, III, 5) describes a kind of trap made from net and lying on the ground and decoy on it. The word mine has two meanings, one is bait or decoy, the other a capturing tool, seems that the previous use of the word mine meant to the bait or decoy. In the (Exodus, XXXIII, 12)
...there will be to Mine amongst you... The poplar hunt tools were the snare and the net, the use by bow and arrow and with birds of prey less customary because problems of kashruth (fitness in accordance with Jewish law). Wood or iron rod were used as weapons.
Yoav killed Absalom. ...He takes three rods by his hand and inserted them in Absalom heart... (II Samuel, XVIII, 14)
Egyptian ancient mural shows a birds' hunt by means of tree or iron rods which were acceptable by Egyptian nobility.

Fowling by rods.
Tractate Tools (of the Mishna) discuss the impure and pure tools, from here we can learn about the tools hunters used: Net, Herm (kind of net) and Michmoret (also fishing net served also to fish capturing. Shelf, and Lariat, all of them are mentioned as impure tools of hunt .The Cage, Hkon and the Hrtov are mentioned as pure aids of hunt.Tractate Tools (of the Mishna) discuss the impure and pure tools, from here we can learn about the tools hunters used: Net, Herm (kind of net) and Michmoret (also fishing net served also to fish capturing. Shelf, and Lariat, all of them are mentianed as impure tools of hunt .The Cage, Hkon and the Hrtov are mentioned as pure aids of hunt.
An additional tool is the cage. ...As a cage is full of birds... (Jeremiah, VI, 27). It may be assumed that cages were used to import pet birds ...Once in three years came the navy of Tharshish, bringing gold, and silver, ivory, and apes, and peacocks...(I King, XX, 16) An additional evidence to use in cage for accommodation birds we can see in a synagogue floor mosaic segment in Maon, from the period of Greece rule over on the Land of Israel.

a. The stone

We can assume that the use of stone in hunting was the most ancient, it was the most accessible tool. The bible tall us in many places about "sling stones", the most famous story is the story about David and Goliath. Benjamin Tribe was published in his snipers ... Every one could sling stones at an hair and not miss ... (Judges XX, 16). Although used in war practice, it is not mentioned in the Bible for hunting.
Attic black figure amphora, CA. 560-530 B.C.seems Hercules hunt Stymphalian birds with sling stone An antic legend tell us about twelve Hercules missions, the fifth mission was to kill the cruel birds that were nesting in Peloponnesus swamps.

Hercules killed Stymphalian birds by sling stones.
The crock with the paint's present in the British Museum, London

b. Bow and arrow

Egyptian mural shows a ducks hunt and gold engraving show Egyptian prince hunting ostrich. Both cases sow hunting by bow and arrow. From Talmudic we can conclude that bow and arrow were used to hunt birds: Bat Siva shampooed her head next to a beehive, when King David saw the devil in the image of bird, shot him with an arrow, the arrow mist and hurt the beehive which cause the beehive to move and that revealing Bat Siva to his eyes and the continuation is known. From this myth it is not clear if kings and knights used bows and arrows for game hunting or fowling, or it was a custom to hunt birds that way.
In spite of the evidence for the use of bow and arrow to fowling in the Fertile Crescent, the Bible does not mention hunt of this sort, Its given assumption is that problems with the Jewish laws avoided or reduced the use of the bow and arrow in land of Israel.

Ancient Egyptian art describes ostriches and ducks hunted by bow and arrow,
it is seen on a stamp an African hunter hunts disguise of to an ostrich.

c. Snare

The snare actually by definition is a trap. The Bible does not encourage the use of this toll as well, because of two reasons :the first one, is due to animal compassion and secondly there are problems of accordance with Jewish laws.
Hunting tools appear in the Talmudic tractate of tools, from where we are learning about hunt tools names and to rise conjectures of the way and the hunt action. In the Bible the prophet asks ... Can a Bird fall in a snare upon the earth, where no gin is for him? Shall one take up a snare from the earth, and have taken nothing at all? (Amos III,5)
Dionisos Priants in his geographic book " Settlement depiction " told abut birds hunt with owls used as a bait. They were tied an owl with string , near by were placed some glue sticks. Canaries used to gather Around owls when it was on day time, and so they were captured by the glue sticks.

d. Net

The net itself is another type of trap. According to the prophet Hosea …Because ye have been a snare on Mizpah, and a net spread upon Tabor…(Hosea, V, 1) . In Psalms book ... Keep me from the snares they have laid for me, and the gins of the workers of iniquity … (Psalm, CXLIII, 10). Micmarat mean a net to capture fish that becomes an additional use to capturing birds. In Egyptian graves from Sakara in the Pharaoh Me-Ra's grave (2500 b.c.) murals describing hunt Common Quail by nets is exposed. Diodoros That lived at the end of the second temple period told us in one of his books (Bibliyoteki) about braiding nets made by planet fibers to capture Quails. In Jerusalem lived in a 10th century an Arab geographer whose name was Mkdsi Abu Abdulla reported on hunting Quails on El Arish and Sinai beaches, by spread nets lengthwise the beaches.
On the British mandate days ,the authorities reduced the Quails delivery to Europe after their worrisome number was reduced aftermath of massive hunt. Until " The Six Day-War " the inhabitants in Gaza Strip placed three fisherman nets lines lengthwise the beach in order to capture the quails after a bisection the sea in it migrations. The result of nets placing in three lines, caused a significant decrease in the Common Quail numbers, in the period that the Israeli army ruled over Gaza Strip it was forbidden to hunt in this way.

Blackap - Silvia atricapilla trapped by net.

e. Falconry

Falconry has long been regarded as a noble sport, and it has a very ancient pedigree. According to traditional views, people first began to use tame birds of prey for hunting game in central Asia during the first or second millennium BC. Through trade and other contacts, the practice then extended westwards into the Middle East, and eventually to Europe. But that theory raises many questions. The first artistic views of falconry come not from the far East, but from Turkey. Several carvings from around 1500 BC show a large bird on the fist of a human figure. Grasped in the same fist is the figure of a hare (presumably the quarry) held by the back legs. Another, somewhat later, example has been found in northern Iraq. Dated to the period of King Sargon II (722-705 BC), this bas-relief depicts a small bird of prey on the wrist of a man. Significantly, this carving seems to show ‘jesses’ (leather thongs used to secure the bird to the human fist), tied to the bird’s feet and passing between the thumb and forefinger of the falconer. If so, it may indicate that falconry (and its paraphernalia) was well developed by the eighth century BC in the Middle East. In both cases, some researchers have interpreted these carvings as purely religious or symbolic scenes. But if these examples do indeed depict hawking, then the sport is at least 3,500 years old in Western Eurasia.
The Mishna (Jewish literature) in tractate Hulin discusses about relevant biblical laws of Kashrot which arise as a result of falconry hunt. ...Little canaries and pigeons by falcons and ducks and hens by hawks...
The birds of prey are called raptors, because of the capturing way, treading on the prey by strong muscles feet equipped with long and sharp talons.. The hunters used leather gloves, birds head covering and tin metal chain while training and hunting.
Falconry is customary also today on peninsula Arabia. It is used mostly by riches sheikhs, in middle Asia and Europe where the falconry us most popular. There are places that use the falconry to expel birds from airports orbital.

f. Sticky sticks.

Hunting birds by sticky sticks is not mentioned in the bible, and not explicit in the Talmud.
As I remarked in the beginning glue was one of birds huntung tools. Sticky sticks maintain in tractate Sabbath (Saturday) put glue on tip of Shabshebet (stick or branch)...(Sabbath,VIII, 7). In another case... In order to put on cane tip of hunters...
(Sabbath, LXXX, 1) . The glue was produced from Grey leaved saucerberry (Cordia sinensis) which grow wild in Dead Sea area, the Israeli Arabs, used to produce glue for hunting birds from his sweet nectar's fruits. There are two more plants fitted to this aim ,in Israel Viscum cruciatum and Lorantbus acaciae. The Romans produced the glue all over the empire from a parasitic plant named Viscum album. The British used to hunt birds by glue till the beginning of the 20' century. The glue was produced from European Mountain Ash, and Holly which used to decorate the front door in Christmas Eve.
In Cyprus they got used to hunting million birds with sticky glue, the hunters produced the glue from Sapistan Plum (Cordia myxa). Archeology digging in Ashkelon revaled fossils Cordia myxa seeds, from this finding which was supported by additional findings, as a lot of birds bones, we may assume that the plant was imported to Israel for hunting business.
Birds' hunting by glue was forbidden in all Europe but the Cyprus residents still hunt millions canaries especially Blackcaps.
Mistletoe - Viscum album....... Holly - Ilex aquifolium ......Mountain Ash - Sorbus aucuparia

Robin - Erighacus rubecula was trapped by sticky sticks.

g. Rifles, hounds and decoy ducks.

Dogs helped in hunt already in early periods. Antique Egyptian engraving describe ostrich hunt, we can see a dog run alongside the hunter chariot. It can be surmise that dogs helped in mammals' hunt but not birds. At the beginning of 18th century the birds game became more and more popular and replaced foxes hunt by foxhounds and horses. Many people began to hunt pheasants, partridges and ducks. From the same period approximately the pointer era began in England. The pointer acquire his name because he can stand immovably and face the prey. After the shooting it pounces forward and picks up the prey gently by his mouth and brings it to the hunter, even in the middle of the lake. At the beginning of the 17th century the double barreled shotguns for fowlers developed, guns behave more and moor deadly weapons. Since that day in order to give a chance to the birds, the hunter must shoot only flying bird. That developed the Sporting Clay Shotguns.
In order to attract the birds to the "killing area" the hunters put decoy shaped like ducks on the water and made familiar sounds to complete the fraud situation.

Hunter, pointer and decoys ducks

h. Conservation, and awareness to endanger.

Some states like the United States and Australia issued tamps for the bird hunter. Actually these stamps are sort of restrictive huntinglicenses.

World wildlife fund – WWF, is one of the association whose goal is the conservation and the defending of animals, The symbol of the association is the Panda. The association and its goals are one of the stamps collectors issue, thus increasing awareness.