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[cybalist] Re: Odp: counting sheep?

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  • Piotr Gasiorowski
    ... From: Ivanovas/Milatos To: cybalist@egroups.com Sent: Tuesday, February 29, 2000 10:52 AM Subject: [cybalist] Re: counting sheep? Sabine, Thanks for the
    Message 1 of 2 , Feb 29, 2000
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      ----- Original Message -----
      Sent: Tuesday, February 29, 2000 10:52 AM
      Subject: [cybalist] Re: counting sheep?

       
      Sabine,
       
      Thanks for the detailed information. What I wrote about killing lambs must sound rather naive to somebody more familiar with sheep-breeding. I don't know much about the expected age profiles in either case and must rely on numbers published by archaeozoological experts. Still, isn't it strange that the older the site, the more immature bones one finds? Or is it possible that sheep were kept for milking from VERY early on? There are Linear Ware colander-like perforated vessels which look as if they could have been used for cheese production. So much for Sherratt's "revolution". What do you think of it?
       
      Piotr
       
      The subject is not so much off the linguistic interest (see below) as it
      seems, so I'd like to pursue this line a little further.
      
      Pjotr, sure we were talking about prehistoric BONES in an archaeological
      record, but the whole point about archaeology is to envision the LIVE flocks
      to understand life in ancient times, so we always need to have a look at
      modern customs, too.
      
      Modern flocks in Crete (often about 1000 animals per shepherd family)usually
      have a twofold structure: one half consists of (comparatively few, about 1m
      : 10 up to 30 f ) male and immature female sheep (until they produce the
      first lambs); this flock is called 'astEra' ('astira', 'steriles', until
      their first product, the lambs in the end, they don't produce - milk, meat,
      little wool - and eat only) and is often kept on far mountain slopes (so
      wouldn't add to the kill-off group). The second half consists only of adult
      females (and their lambs for about forty days that are then slaughtered
      _somewhere_ all together at the beginning of milking season). The lambs for
      reproducing the flock are kept apart for a while and then adjoined to the
      astira.
      The most important feature in the bones record here would be: more females
      than males, a lot of adults, hardly lambs (because one community can't eat
      250 lambs at a time, and they have to be sold elsewhere). If the flocks were
      smaller (and lambs could be consumed locally) it would still be noted that
      all small bones would have to come from lambs about 40 days of age (they
      have only 10kg at that time, but it's the ideal time to start milking). For
      producing a large amount of meat nobody would slaughter immature lambs but
      wait until they're grown up (as the shepherds here do: they eat at least 90%
      adult sheep).
      So you see why the large amount of dead lambs (IF 'immature' in your
      reference means lambs!) for me fits better the milking scheme (and no
      other).
      
      Back to the Bronze Age and linguistics.
      
      The point of wool production has already been discussed by Mycenaean
      scholars in studying the over 800 Linear B tablets from Knossos dealing with
      sheep (probably listing around 100 000 sheep belonging to the Knossian
      administration (that means: we're probably talking here about Cretan flocks
      as large as today).
      There are two typical ideograms for sheep in LB: one for rams, one for ewes.
      Now Knossos shows an alarmingly high amount of rams (which, as you see
      above, for modern Cretan flocks would be nonsense).
      THIS accounts for wool production: rams for reproduction can be few (see
      above), but for wool production in ancient times males were castrated and
      then these wethers constituted the main part of some flocks (cf. Chadwick
      1976).
      Interestingly, by the way, the sums in additions of males and females (in
      ideograms) were given by a male sign!! (a bit of grammar which, I suppose,
      gives us a glimpse into preferences of sexes in Mycenaean society...)
      
      Additionally there was also a third entry given which vexed linguists
      (qualified by the abbreviation 'ki'). By thinking over the necessity of a
      large administration to manage all the wool-wethers, they decided the
      'ki'-sheep would have to be lambs as they were also listed together with
      ewes. So Killen (1964) reached the conclusion: different abbreviations in
      the tablets were meant to mean 'old', 'young', 'this year's' and 'last
      years', showing the kind of management these Bronze Age flocks were subject
      to from the central administration (probably calculating the amounts
      necessary for a future requirement of wool etc.).
      Goats are a different subject again (by the way: in ancient archaeological
      contexts with much destruction often bones of sheep and goats cannot be
      distinguished by archaeolzoologists, it seems), there is also a sign (the
      'ra'-goat) that couldn't been explained yet by linguists, also one of the
      commodities (measured by weight) produced by goat-flocks is still unknown
      (the other is horns, a commodity modern people wouldn't necessarily think
      of, but very important as basis for tools in BA and Neolithic).
      
      As you see linguistics can have quite a lot to do with 'counting sheep'!
      
      >Bones give us information about kill-off patterns, not about the
      composition of the flock itself.<
      They do, to a certain extent, give us information on the flocks, too,
      because I hope to have shown that eating immature sheep is rather a sign for
      milk-production (you just don't need all the lambs). A 'wool-producing'
      kill-off pattern would contain in a case as the Knossian wool-flocks a
      larger amount of adult MALES (because you eat what you have, mainly),
      whereas milk- production would show in a rather larger amount of adult
      FEMALES (together with the case of the slaughtered lambs, that would be more
      males than females, in this case more often kept to reproduce the largely
      female adult flock.)
      
      Best wishes from Crete (where many ewes still have small horns as in
      antiquity).
      
      Sabine
      
      
      
      
      

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    • Ivanovas/Milatos
      Hello, ... Sorry, but I m not familiar with more details of this revolution than what was mentioned here. Tell me more about it, and I ll tell you my
      Message 2 of 2 , Mar 1, 2000
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        ÿþ<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN"> <HTML><HEAD> <META content="text/html; charset=unicode" http-equiv=Content-Type> <META content="MSHTML 5.00.2014.210" name=GENERATOR> <STYLE></STYLE> </HEAD> <BODY bgColor=#ffffff> <DIV>Hello,</DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV>Pjotr wrote:</DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV>>So much for Sherratt's "revolution". What do you think of it?<</DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV>Sorry, but I'm not familiar with more details of this 'revolution' than what was mentioned here. Tell me more about it, and I'll tell you my opinion.</DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV>And from a purely common sense (not professional) point of view I'd say that milking looks to me like the first thing someone would do with an animal after having found out about animal husbandry (apart from meat production). In the form of cheese milk is long-time storable while it still keeps its nutritional qualities. A rare thing - most foods, especially animal protein containing ones, are very difficult to store/keep.Cheese was certainly seen as a gift of the gods (you can even produce it when you're constantly wandering in a nomadic life, whereas to dry meat certainly takes longer).</DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV>From the land of Mizithra, the finest cheese I know</DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV>Sabine</DIV></BODY></HTML>
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