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The Early History of Sheep and Wool The history of the sheep industry began in Central Asia about 10000 years ago Its the nature of sheep to flock together Early man could take sheep in his travels because they are efficient grazers and able to survive on sparse vegetation Man had discovered the value of the sheep as a two product animal even then It could provide two of lifes essentials meat and milk for food and hides for clothing and shelter The earliest sheep producers used the fleece as a kind of tunic It wasnt until 3500 BC that man learned to spin wool Channing 110 Sheep helped make the spread of civilization possible Once man had discovered the warmth and usefulness of wool clothing they could travel and live in comfort beyond the plains of Mesopotamia where the average temperature was 70 degrees Bishop 12 History has many references to sheep In Genesis it is recorded that Able kept sheep Exodus states all of the women that were wise hearted did spin with their hands and brought that which they had spun both of blue and of purple and of scarlet The earliest of Egyptian history speaks of wool pieces of wool and clothing have been found in tombs of Egyptian Pharaohs Channing 117 Sheep and wool spread to Europe between 3000 BC and 1000 BC through ancient Greece During the next 1000 years Greeks Romans and Persians contributed to improvements in sheep breeds The Romans were also responsible for the spread of sheep in North Africa and Europe The Romans also established a woolen manufactory in Winchester New England as early as 50 AD Channing 123 The Merino the sheep producing the smallest diameter wool fiber is said to have descended from a strain developed during the reign of Claudious 41 to 54 AD Later during the dark ages the Merino breed deteriorated It was later revived by the Saracens
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