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Ryder, Michael Lawson, 1927-2015

 Person

Dates

  • Existence: 1927-2015

Michael Lawson Ryder was born in Leeds in 1927. His schooling at Leeds Grammar School was interrupted by his evacuation to the Yorkshire Dales during the Second World War. After completing his National Service in West Africa between 1945 and 1948, Ryder enrolled at the University of Leeds, receiving his BSc in 1951. In the same year, he began work in the biology department of the Wool Industries Research Association in Leeds, but also continued his studies at the University of Leeds, gaining his MSc in 1954 and PhD in 1956.
From 1960 to 1962 Ryder was a senior lecturer in Livestock Husbandry at the University of New England in Armidale, Australia. The following year, he returned to the UK to take up the position of Principal Scientific Officer at the Animal Breeding Research Organisation in Edinburgh. He remained at ABRO for twenty years, also becoming an Honorary lecturer at the University of Edinburgh in 1966. In 1984, he left ABRO to work for three years at the Hill Farming Research Organisation.
Ryder became known as an international expert on sheep and wool, publishing over 220 academic papers and several academic books, including 'Wool Growth' (1968) and the acclaimed 'Sheep and Man' (1983), which combined anthropology, archaeology, geography and folklore as well as biology and agriculture. The book encapsulated Ryder's lifelong interest in the domestication and spread of sheep among ancient civilizations, in the European middle ages the Islamic world. Ryder also made significant contributions to archaeozoology with his book 'Animal Bones in Archaelogy' (1961) and other papers. He continued to use his knowledge to analyse and interpret preserved ancient wool and textile remains, such as the finds from the site of Hallstatt in Austria in 2007.
After his retirement, Ryder relocated to Hampshire and continued to reseach and travel widely. He died on 6 February 2015.

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