What Were Sheep Used for in Ancient Times?

Sheep have been domesticated by humans for thousands of years. They were one of the first animals to be domesticated and have played a significant role in the history of human civilization.

In ancient times, sheep were not just used for their wool and meat, but they also had many other uses. Let’s take a closer look at what sheep were used for in ancient times.

The Domestication of Sheep

Sheep were first domesticated around 9000 BC in the Middle East. Nomadic tribes began to domesticate sheep for their wool, milk, and meat. The ancient Egyptians also raised sheep for their wool and meat.

Sheep as a Source of Wool

One of the primary uses of sheep in ancient times was for their wool. Wool was used to make clothing, blankets, and other textiles. The wool from different breeds of sheep had different qualities and was often traded between regions.

Breeds of Sheep

There are many breeds of sheep that are still raised today, but some breeds have been around for thousands of years. The Merino breed is one such breed that has been prized for its fine wool since the Middle Ages.

Wool Production

Wool production was an important industry in ancient times. Sheep were shorn once or twice a year to produce wool, which was then washed and spun into yarn or thread. The yarn or thread was then woven into fabric on a loom.

Sheep as a Source of Meat

Another use for sheep in ancient times was as a source of meat. Sheep were raised for their meat and were often consumed during religious festivals or other special occasions.

Cooking with Sheep Meat

Sheep meat was cooked in many different ways in ancient times. It could be roasted over an open fire or boiled in a stew with vegetables and grains.

Sheep Milk and Cheese

Sheep milk was and still is a popular drink in many parts of the world. It was also used to make cheese, which was an important source of protein in ancient times.

Cheese Production

Cheese was made by adding rennet to sheep milk, which caused the milk to curdle. The curdled milk was then drained and pressed into cheese. Different types of cheese could be made by varying the amount of rennet used or by adding different herbs or spices.


In conclusion, sheep have played a significant role in human civilization for thousands of years. They were used for their wool, meat, milk, and cheese, among other things. The domestication of sheep helped to create many industries that are still important today.