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tions in the valley of the Nile, and wheat and barley were grown in every part of Egypt.
Like the Romans, they usually brought the seed in a basket, which the sower held in his left hand, or suspended on his arm (sometimes with a strap round his neck), while he scattered the seed with his right; and he sometimes followed the plough, in those fields which required no further preparation with the hoe, or were free from the roots of noxious weeds. The mode of sowing was what we term broadcast; the seed was scattered loosely over the surface, whether ploughed, or allowed to remain in its unbroken muddy state; and in no agricultural scene is there any evidence of drilling or dibbling.
Corn, and those productions which did not require constant irrigation, were sown in the open field, as in other countries; but for indigo, esculent vegetables, and herbs, the fields were portioned out into the usual square beds,* surrounded by a raised border of earth to keep in the water, which was conducted into them by channels from the shadóof, or poured in with buckets.†
Wheat was cut in about five, barley in four months; the best quality, according to Pliny, being grown in the Thebaïd. The wheat, as at the present day, was all bearded, and the same varieties, doubtless, existed in ancient as in modern times; among which may be mentioned the seven-eared quality described in Pharaoh's dream.‡ This is the kind which has been lately grown in England, and which is said to have been raised from grains found in the tombs of Thebes. It is no longer cultivated in Upper Egypt, being only grown in small quantities in the Delta; and this is the more remarkable as it renders the substitution of modern for ancient wheat at Thebes very improbable.
The wheat was cropped a little below the ear § with a toothed sickle, and carried to the threshing-floor in wicker paniers upon asses, or in rope ¶ nets, the gleaners following to collect the
See these square beds in woodcut 39, fig. c., vol. i. p. 35.
Comp. Job xxiv. 24, "Cut off as the tops of the ears of corn."
Fig. 1 puts the seed into the basket.
2 sowing the land after the plough has passed. The handle of the plough has a peg at the side like the modern Egyptian plough, which may be seen in the Vignette.
Ploughing, sowing, and reaping.
Fig. 1. Plucking up the doora by the roots. 2. Reaping wheat.
Tombs of the Kings-Thebes.
Fig. 1. The reapers. 2. A reaper drinking from a cup. 3, 4. Gleaners: the first of these asks the reaper to allow him to drink. 5. Carrying the ears in a rope basket: the length of the stubble showing the ears alone are cut off. 10. The tritura, answering to our threshing. 12 drinks from a water-skin suspended in a tree. the number of bushels measured from the heap. 16 Checks the account by noting those taken
Fig. 1. The steward, or the owner of the land.
2 throws the ears of wheat into the centre, that the oxen may pass over them and tread out the grain.
4 brings the wheat to the threshing-floor in baskets carried on asses.
The oxen are yoked together, that they may walk round regularly.
fallen ears in hand baskets. The rope net, answering to the Shenfeh of modern Egypt, was borne on a pole by two men ; and the threshing-floor was a level circular area near the field, or in the vicinity of the granary, where, when it had been well swept, the ears were deposited, and cattle were driven over it to tread out the grain. While superintending the animals so employed, the Egyptian peasants, like their modern successors, relieved their labours by singing; and in a tomb at Eileithyias this song of the threshers is written in hieroglyphics over oxen
treading out the grain :-" (1) Thresh for yourselves (twice, a), (2) O oxen, (3) thresh for yourselves (twice, b), (4) measures for yourselves, (5) measures for your masters." The discovery and translation of this are due to Champollion, to whom all who study hieroglyphics are under such infinite obligations, and whose talents were beyond all praise.
A certain quantity was first strewed in the centre of the area, and when this had been well triturated by the animals' feet, more was added by means of large wooden forks, from the main