JASON’S GOLDEN FLEECE — Footnotes and bibliography



(1)  G.J. Smith (1987); G.J. & A.J. Smith (1992); cf. Ryder (1991).
(2) Strabo xi 2.10; for a popular account, see Severin (1985) 221-229 (but Severin’s date for Strabo is 400 years too early). See also Ryder (1983), 147.
(3) Several other, less plausible theories are summarised (and rightly dismissed) by Ryder (1992) 3-4.
(4) The main sources for this account are Pindar, Pythian Ode 4, 159-162, Apollodoros I.ix.1, Apollonios Rhodios, Argonautika.
(5) The main sources on this contest between the brothers Atreus and Thyestes are Euripides, Orestes 996-1001, Euripides Elektra 699-742, scholiast on Orestes 810, Apollodoros Ep. 2.10-13.
(6) Odyssey 10.70.
(7) The Knossos sheep and wool tablets have been brilliantly analysed by J.T. Killen (1964). The tablet mentioned is De 1151.
(8) Even in Roman times, while it was accepted that different breeds had different qualities and one or two writers on agricultural subjects discussed the selection of ewes, there is a resounding silence about ram selection. For a convenient survey, see Frayn (1984), ch’s 2 & 6.
(9) As Ryder has pointed out (1992 3-6).
(10) Ryder (1984) 214. I am not sure what his reasons are for choosing this date.
(11) At a little hilltop site called Myrtos, traces have been found of the manufacture of wool and linen textiles, almost certainly including dyeing. For a full account of the evidence for early dyeing see Barber (1994) esp. 104-116.
(12) (1984) 140. Cf. Sponenberg & Ito (1989), 155: “White sheep are usually genetically programmed to be all red, but selection has removed all the red pigments, leaving a white or ivory fleece.”
(13) In Robin Snyder’s flock in California the author saw a young Karakul ewe with white wool that still had tan tips.
(14) (1992) 4.
(15) Ryder (1984) 214, “The wild pattern (white belly) gene Aw has been observed to mutate to white …”
(16) I would like to thank Walter Moala for the map, Dr Judy Deuling for references and historical advice, and my husband and daughters for encouragement and constructive discussion.


S. Adalsteinsson (1984). “Colour Patterns in Icelandic Sheep”, Coloured Sheep and their Products (Masterton, New Zealand) 139-152.
E.W. Barber (1994). Women’s Work, the First 20,000 Years (New York & London).
Joan M. Frayn (1984). Sheep-rearing and the Wool Trade in Italy during the Roman Period (Liverpool).
J.T. Killen (1964). Annual of the British School of Archaeology at Athens 59, 1-15.
M.L. Ryder (1983). Sheep and Man (London).
M.L. Ryder (1984). “The Historical Development of Fleece Type and Loss of Colour”, Coloured Sheep and their Products (Masterton, New Zealand) 212-221.
M.L. Ryder (1991). “The last word on the Golden Fleece legend?” Oxford Journal of Archaeology 10, 57-60.
M.L. Ryder (1992). “Was the golden fleece really coloured?” Dyes in History and Archaeology 10, 3-6.
Tim Severin (1985). The Jason Voyage.
G.J. Smith (1987). “Jason’s golden fleece explained?” Nature 327, 561.
G.J. & A.J. Smith (1992). “Jason’s golden fleece” Oxford Journal of Archaeology 11.1 119-120.
D.P. Sponenberg & Shosuke Ito (1989). “Comparative Pigmentation of Sheep, Goats, and Llamas …”, Coloured Sheep and Wool, Exploring their Beauty and Function (Ashland, Oregon), 154-155.