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Approaching sheep herds origins and the emergence of the wool economy in continental Europe during the Bronze Age

Journal article
Authors Serena Sabatini
Sophie Bergerbrant
L. Brandt
A. Margaryan
M. E. Allentoft
Published in Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences
Volume 11
Issue 9
Pages 4909-4925
ISSN 18669557
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Historical Studies
Pages 4909-4925
Language en
Keywords Ancient DNA, Ancient wool, Breeding practices, Second millennium BC, Textile production
Subject categories History and Archaeology, Genetics


© 2019, The Author(s). In recent years, extensive archaeological studies have provided us with new knowledge on wool and woollen textile production in continental Europe during the Bronze Age. Concentrations of large numbers of textile tools, and of zooarchaeological evidence suggesting intense sheepherding, hint at specialized centres of wool production during the Bronze Age. The aim of this paper is to discuss whether engagement with this economic activity was facilitated by the introduction of new foreign sheep types, possibly from the Eastern Mediterranean, where well-established wool economies existed, or by using local sheep, or a mixture of local and non-local types. A small-scale genetic pilot study, presented in this paper, primarily aimed at testing the DNA preservation, and thus the genomic potential in Bronze Age sheep remains provides evidence of both mitochondrial haplogroups A and B among Bronze Age sheep in Hungary. This result could hint at sheep herds with mixed origin but further in-depth studies are necessary to address this. We aim to promote scholarly interest in the issue and propose new directions for research on this topic.

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