ossamenta: A flock of sheep from a medieval manuscript (Sheep)
[personal profile] ossamenta
As part of my Ph.D. idea I'm exploring ways to identify castrated sheep from their bones. Castrates were very popular as wool producers, since they grew big and their fleeces weren't affected by hormonal changes from breeding. Medieval records from wool producing flocks show the presence of large numbers of ewes and castrates, but hardly any rams. So if you want to detect wool producing sheep flocks, you want many adult/older ewes and castrates.

I did a study on some sheep skeletons in Denmark many years ago, and wanted to do a follow-up on a different breed, just in case the traits I found on the Danish sheep were breed specific. So today was spent in the stores of English Heritage in Portsmouth, looking at many sheep skeletons. As expected, things weren't totally obvious, but a bit complicated. Still, when I did a blind test, I got almost all sheep correctly sexed. So there is certainly something about my method.

Now I need to put up my notes in a file and send them back to EH, as part of the deal to use their collection is the requirement that they get a record of what I did. And then sort out my next step on my research. It will involve lots of photos, and even more sheep skeletons...

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ossamenta

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