Timeline: Domestication of Sheep


Agriculture Started

10,000 BC

The beginning of agriculture in the Middle East.

Domestication of Sheep

8000 BC

Sheep were first domesticated in Central Asia. Sheep were the first animal we domesticated for meat.

Wool in Babylon

4000 BC

In 4000 BC, people wore wool clothing in Babylon (otherwise known as the Land of Wool). This was around the time when people spun wool on drop spindles.

Sheep were introduced to the British Isles

55 BC

Sheep found their way to the British Isles.

Invention of the Spinning Wheel

1200 AD

Before the spinning wheel people spun fibers by hand. Inventors only mechanized this process to make it easier to create.

Queen Isabella of Spain

1401 AD - 1500 AD

In the 1400s, Queen Isabella of Spain used money from wool production to fund conquistadors expeditions (such as Columbus).

Columbus in Cuba

1493 AD

On his second voyage to the New World, Columbus brought sheep with him. He left them in Cuba and in Santo Domingo.

England banned the export of sheep to America

1501 AD - 1700 AD

During the 16th and 17th century, England refused to export sheep to America and banned it so England would keep America dependent upon England. This didn't stop American colonists from smuggling sheep into the United States and starting their own wool industry.

Hernan Cortes

Approx. 1519 AD

In approximately 1519 AD, Hernan Cortes began his exploration of Mexico and western America. He took sheep with him that were offspring of Columbus's sheep. These sheep are believed to be descendents of a breed of sheep called Churros (the oldest sheep in America). They traveled all the way over to the southwest and became part of the Navajo culture. Which is why the sheep are called Navajo Churros.

England is outraged at America's wool production!

1601 AD - 1698 AD

During this amount of time, America had extended their wool production and trade. England became so outraged that they outlawed the trade of wool and the raising of sheep, the punishment would be chopping off someone's right hand. These rules started the American revolution and people often wore homespun wool garments to protest against England. Even after the war, England banned the export of any sheep except for wethers.

Sheep from the Dutch to America

1635 AD

The American Pilgrims smuggled sheep from the Dutch back to the American colonies.

10,000 sheep in America

1664 AD

In 1664, there were 10,000 sheep in the American colonies and the General Court of Massachusetts passed a law that required all youth to learn the trade of spinning and weaving.

Invention of the Flying Shuttle

1733 AD

Unlike the name, the flying shuttle is not a rocket or shuttle that flies, rather it is a needle-like invention with a bobin. It allowed the thread to be woven at a much quicker rate.

Invention of the Spinning Jenny

1764 AD

The spinning jenny is a multi-spindle spinning frame that industrialized the weaving.

The Invention of the Water Frame

1769 AD

The water frame is a water powered spinning frame. It was able to spin 128 threads at once.

The first American Woolen Mill

1769 AD

The American Woolen Mill (which later came to be known as the American Woolen Company) was a designer, manufacturer, and distributor of woolen items and clothes for men, women, and children.

Farming Spread


Farming spread across Europe along with agriculture.