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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
Fig. 1. The steward,
2, 3. Reapers.
11. The scribe.
5. A woman gleaner. 9. Winnowers. 6 carrying the wheat in the usual rope net. 13, 14 carrying the grain to the granary in sacks. The continuation of this scene, beyond the fig. 14, is given in woodcut 33, vol. i. p. 32.
7. The tritura.
* Though the custom of treading out the grain was general, the expression "thresh" or "beat," in the song of the threshers, shows that the Egyptians originally threshed with the flail or stick.
people. Sometimes the cattle were bound together by a piece trituration, was generally adopted by ancient, as by some modern and so on till all the grain was trodden out. This process, heap, raised around, and forming the edge of, the threshing-floor;
of wood or a rope fastened to their horns or necks, in order to force them to go round the heap, and tread it regularly, the driver following behind them with a stick.*
After the grain had been trodden out, they winnowed it with wooden shovels; it was then carried to the granary in sacks, each containing a fixed quantity, which was determined by wooden measures; a scribe noting down the number, as called by the teller who superintended its removal. Sweepers with small hand-brooms were employed to collect the scattered grain that fell from the measure; and the "immense heaps of corn mentioned by Diodorus, collected from "the field which was round every city," accord well with the representation of the paintings in the tombs,‡ and with those seen at the present day in the villages of the Nile. Sometimes two scribes § were present; one to write down the number of measures taken from the heap of corn, and the other to check them by entering the quantity removed to the granary,|| as well as the number of sacks actually housed:-a precaution quite in character with the circumspect habits of the Egyptians.
Oxen, as Herodotus says, were generally used for treading out the grain; and sometimes, though rarely, asses were employed for that purpose.
The Jews had the same custom, and, like the Egyptians, they suffered the ox to tread out the corn unmuzzled, according to the express order of their lawgiver. In later times, however, it appears that the Jews used "threshing instruments;" though, from the offer made to David by Ornan, of "the oxen also," and the use of the word dus, "treading," in the sentence, “Ornan was threshing wheat," ** it is possible that the trituration is here alluded to, and that the threshing instruments only refer to the winnowing-shovels, or other implements used on those occasions : though the "new sharp threshing instrument having teeth,"
* Woodcuts 368, 373.
Gen. xli. 48. Diodor. i. 36. § Woodcut 367.
Of the granary, see vol. i., woodcuts 11, 32, 33.
¶ Deut. xxv. 4.