The interaction between biological and technological change during the development of different fleece types in sheep

Michael L. RYDER

en Anthropozoologica 16 - Pages 131-140

Published on 01 October 1992

This article is a part of the thematic issue Animals and their products in trade and exchange. Proceedings of the 3rd international meeting of HASRI, Oxford, 8-11 November 1990

The Neolithic feral Mouflon of Corsica shows that it took several thousand years after domestication for a fleece to develop. Although wool may first have been used as felt, suggested by the natural felting of a moulting coat, the earliest remains are of Bronze Age cloth that indicates the combing of underwool from the outer hair before the full development of the first (Hairy-medium) fleece. The later, Generalised-medium, fleeces were plucked. Twisted strands of wool formed when a sheep rubs a moulting fleece could have led to spinning, Hairy-medium fleeces giving worsted yarns and Generalised-medium fleeces, woollens. Breeding for continuous wool growth could not begin before the development of shears in the Iron Age and it led to a new, true Hairy type of fleece. This was also when breeding for white wool started along with the development of dyes.


Fleece, Shearing, Sheep, Textiles, Dyes, Wool.

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