This research project was a follow-up project of the dissertation (A-4-3-1) Mid-Holocene landscape development in the Carpathian region. The project was intended to develop a synthesis of the environmental conditions in the regions of early wool economies. The results acquired so far within the Topoi research group (A-4-) The Textile Revolution were integrated and evaluated from a geoscientific perspective.
The introduction and propagation of the use of secondary animal products, such as sheep wool was accompanied by expanding animal husbandry. There is no doubt that the introduction of pastoral economy and farming led to extensive deposits of both alluvial clay and colluvium. A differentiated classification of changes in land use practices resulting in changes to the ecological balance of the landscape – reflected in modified accumulation rates – has thus far only been possible in exceptional cases. Recent work conducted in South-East Asia suggests that vegetation disturbances and land degradation occurred during the Chalcolithic-Early Bronze Age due to higher stocking rates in the course of emerging wool production and the development of organized market economies. However, it is still on debate at which point in time pastoral and agricultural activities exceeded climate driven landscape changes, starting to dictate sediment dynamics.
A differentiated depiction of the connections between propagation of wool economies and landscape development were attained by comprising the systematic analysis of the spatio-temporal spreading of fleece-bearing wool sheep from Eurasia to Western Europe and integrating environmental conditions and climate development. The research focused on the relation between introduction, spreading and husbandry of fleece-bearing wool sheep and the degradation of soil and natural vegetation. In order to ensure that this assessment is reliable, it was necessary to evaluate the “landscape sensitivity” of the regions in question, that is, to determine how capable a region is of withstanding changing forces (resilience), regardless of whether the changes are caused by the climate or by human impact. Furthermore, the herding suitability of the landscape was evaluated in order to support the development of spreading trajectories of early wool sheep.