Agricutlral Machinery Greece Essay Research Paper The

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Agricutlral Machinery Greece Essay, Research Paper The agriculture of Hellensitic Italy was transformed not only by the introduction of a large number of technical innovations, but also by a profound structural change. The last 2 centuries BC witnessed decisive steps towards the establishment of large scale estates, latifundia, which were to play an important role in the course of the empire. Even though the cultivation units remained relatively small for a long period, there was gradual transition to more extensive farming, largely based on slave labour. Fortunately, we are able to gain a detailed insight into the agricultural life of the time. About 160BC, a Roman statesman, Cato the Censor (234BC-149BC) wrote a book called De agricultura (”About Agriculture”). It is

not a well arranged manual, but rather a collection of unconnected notes comprising, apart from general instructions and a mention of religious customs, a description of two of Cato’s own estates near the border of Latium and Campania. One farm – with an extent of 240 iugera (about 60ha. or 150 acres), managed by 13 people (mainly slaves) – specialised in the cultivation of olives. The other specialised in viticulture, occupied 100 iugera (about 25ha. or 60 acres) and was managed by 16 people. Even though the descriptions refer to these two particular farms, they are doubtless fairly representative of normal cultivation units in Late Republican Italy. Besides workers and animals, all kinds of tools and equipment are listed, including the precise number of spades, axes,

tongs, working tables and so on used at each farm. As well as this, specialised agricultural equipment, Cato describes a series of machines, showing that – in spite of his well-known aversion to everything foreign – he was perfectly aware of the recent achievements of Greek technology. The olives were crushed in 5 edge-runner mills (trapeta1) of various sizes (a recent invention), and the pulp was then transferred to five presses of the most recent models, at least some of which were provided with block and tackle to hoist the weights. The wine was pressed in similar machines; and there was a series of mills to process grain cultivated for household use: on the olive farm, there was an Olynthian Mill, an improved saddle quem, a rotary hand mill (invented about 300BC), and a

donkey mill. In the vineyard, there was one Olynthian Mill and three donkey mills. Cato describes his machines in detail, but they are best illustrated by later archaeological finds – from the cities of Vesuvius, in particular. Variants of the same devices were found throughout the Roman Empire, from Britain and the Rhine frontier to Africa and South East Asia. Some of the machines survived in Mediterranean countries well into the 20th Century. A reconstruction of a lever-and-drum press for crushing olives, or grapes for winemaking. The olive pulp/grapes were placed on the press bed (a) and covered with a lid (b). The pressing beam (c) was drawn down with levers (e) and a rope running around a drum (d), shown here in the foreground. (Reconstructed from Article) (1.) Trapeta

(edge-runner mills) were two hemispherical segments hanging on a horizontal beam which were rolled over the olives in order to separate the pulp from the stones (think of a barbell being used to crush olives on a stone block). Source: Burenhult, G. (1994), Old World Civilisations: The Rise of Cities and States, Uni. QLD Press, Brisbane (AUS). THE ARCHIMEDEAN SCREW The Archimedean screw is a device used to elevate water for irrigation on fields which are higher than the source of water. A long handle extends out of the upper end of the device which is cranked by hand. This action causes the spiral chambers inside the device to rotate. The rotation forces water up into higher ‘compartments’ whilst the spiral nature of the screw prevents the water flowing into lower