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Fig. 4. Goats treading in the grain, when sown in the field, after the water has subsided.
6 is sprinkling the seed from the basket he holds in his left hand; the others are driving the goats over the ground. The hieroglyphic word above, Sk, or Skai, signifies "tillage," and is followed by the demonstrative sign, a plough.
Fig. 1 breaks the clods of earth after the plough has passed.
4. A barrel, probably containing the seed.
5. An attitude common to the Egyptians.
6. Another ploughman. The ancient Egyptians were evidently as fond of talking while at work as their successors.
cattle, asses, pigs, sheep, or goats into the field to tread in the grain. "In no country," says Herodotus, " do they gather their seed with so little labour. They are not obliged to trace deep furrows with the plough, and break the clods, nor to partition out their fields into numerous forms, as other people do; but when the river of itself overflows the land, and the water retires again, they sow their fields, driving the pigs over them to tread in the seed; and this being done, every one patiently awaits the harvest." On other occasions they used the plough, but were contented, as we are told by Diodorus and Columella, with "tracing slight furrows with light ploughs on the surface of the land;" and others followed with wooden hoes* to break the clods of the rich and tenacious soil.
The modern Egyptians sometimes substitute for the hoe a machine,† called khonfud, "hedgehog," which consists of a cylinder studded with projecting iron pins, to break the clods after the land has been ploughed; but this is only used when great care is required in the tillage of the land; and they frequently dispense with the hoe; contenting themselves, also, with the same slight furrows as their predecessors, which do not exceed the depth of a few inches, measuring from the lowest part to the summit of the ridge. It is difficult to say if the modern Egyptians derived the hint of the "hedgehog" from their predecessors; but it is a curious fact that a clod-crushing machine, not very unlike that of Egypt, has only lately been invented in England, which was shown at the Great Exhibition of 1851.
The ancient plough was entirely of wood, and of as simple a form as that of modern Egypt. It consisted of a share, two handles, and the pole or beam; which last was inserted into the lower end of the stilt, or the base of the handles, and was strengthened by a rope connecting it with the heel. It had no coulter, nor were wheels applied to any Egyptian plough: but it is probable that the point was shod with a metal sock, either of bronze or iron. It was drawn by two oxen; and the plough
*Woodcuts 359, fig. 1, 361 and 362.
† See the Vignette at the beginning of this Chapter.
man guided and drove them with a long goad, without the assistance of reins, which are used by the modern Egyptians. He was sometimes accompanied by another man, who drove the animals,* while he managed the two handles of the plough; and sometimes the whip was substituted for the more usual goad.
Cows were occasionally put to the plough; and it may not have been unknown to them that the cow ploughs quicker than the ox.
The mode of yoking the beasts was exceedingly simple. Across the extremity of the pole, a wooden yoke or cross-bar, about fifty-five inches or five feet in length, was fastened by a strap lashed backwards and forwards over a prominence projecting from the centre of the yoke, which corresponded to a similar peg, or knob, at the end of the pole; and occasionally,
Yoke of an ancient plough found in a tomb.
Figs. 1, 2. The back and front of the yoke.
3. Collar or shoulder pieces attached to the yoke.
Collection of S. D'Anastasy.
4, 4. The pieces of matting for protecting the two shoulders from friction.
* See instances of both in woodcut 34, vol. i. p. 32.
in addition to these, was a ring passing over them as in some Greek chariots. At either end of the yoke was a flat or slightly concave projection, of semi-circular form, which rested on a pad placed upon the withers of the animal; and through a hole on either side of it passed a thong for suspending the shoulderpieces which formed the collar. These were two wooden bars, forked at about half their length, padded so as to protect the shoulder from friction, and connected at the lower end by a strong broad band passing under the throat.
Sometimes the draught, instead of being from the withers, was from the head, the yoke being tied to the base of the horns ;* and in religious ceremonies oxen frequently drew the bier, or the sacred shrine, by a rope fastened to the upper part of the horns, without either yoke or pole.
From a passage in Deuteronomy, "Thou shalt not plow with an ox and an ass together," it might be inferred that the custom of yoking two different animals to the plough was common in Egypt but it was evidently not so; and the Hebrew lawgiver had probably in view a practice adopted by some of the people of Syria, whose country the Israelites were about to occupy.
Fig. 1. From the sculptures.
Fig. 2. Found in a tomb.
The hoe was of wood, like the fork, and many other implements of husbandry, and in form was not unlike our letter A,
*As in woodcut 359, p. 13.