Download Two oxen ahead : pre-mechanized farming in the Mediterranean by Paul Halstead PDF

By Paul Halstead

This revealing examine indicates how cautious research of contemporary farming practices, and similar cultural traditions, in groups round the Mediterranean can increase our realizing of prehistoric and Greco-Roman societies.

  • Includes a wealth of unique interview fabric and knowledge from box observation
  • Provides unique methods to figuring out previous farming practices and their social contexts
  • Offers a revealing comparative viewpoint on Mediterranean societies’ agronomy
  • Identifies a few formerly unrecorded climate-related contrasts in farming practices, that have very important socio-economic significance
  • Explores annual initiatives, similar to tillage and harvest; inter-annual land administration strategies, similar to rotation; and intergenerational concerns, together with capital accumulation

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Additional info for Two oxen ahead : pre-mechanized farming in the Mediterranean

Sample text

Some farmers, in both northern Greece and Asturias, also favored the ard on slopes because it caused less soil erosion than the plow. This selective adoption of new tools highlights how ecologically contingent may be the relative merits of primitive and advanced technology and also how technologically contingent the distinction between margi­ nal and prime arable land. While the lighter soils of the hills and mountains are in general easier to till, however, than their heavier counterparts in the valleys, this is often more than offset in upland farming by the small size and dispersal of fields or terraces, steepness of slopes, and abundance of boulders.

They were big animals that scattered stones and bushes when we cleared new fields. If you stood next to one of these animals, you could not see someone standing on the other side. But they needed feeding to work at their best. Wealthy farmers fed their oxen all year round with oats, hay and straw, but the poorer ones left them, once the sowing was over, to graze prickly oaks [evergreen bushes] on the mountain. ” Ilias plowed where possible, but digging with hand tools was necessary around rocks and near terrace edges; because of the width of the plow team, he could plow no closer to walls and boulders than perhaps half a meter.

Alexis grew oats to feed two horses that carried grain to and from the family’s water mill in another village. As oats are undemanding and the quality of the harvest was not a vital concern, he sowed some oats directly onto the previous year’s wheat stubble, plowing the field only once to cover the seed. As well as increasing the area available for sowing, this relaxation of the “norm” of alternateyear fallowing extended the effective length of the autumn sowing 22 Working the Earth season because stubble could be worked immediately after rain, whereas tilled fallow fields needed first to dry out a little.

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