Friday, May 30, 2008

Egyptian Farming and Food in 1300 BC

Egyptian Farming and Food in 1300 BC
Harvest of the fertile River Bank
Neat parcels of farmland bordered the Nile, and it was there that nearly all Egyptians worked. The boundaries between farmers’ fields were marked with special stones, and during the annual inundation the Nile’s water obliterated all landmarks except the stones. The dishonest farmer then had an unparalleled opportunity to move boundary stones in his favor, but stealing precious land in this way was one of the worst sins an Egyptian could commit.

When the river water started to recede, the farmer’s first tasks were to reinstate any migrant boundary stones, and to repair flood damaged to dykes. The Egypt’s yearly round of cultivation began in earnest. Peasants with digging sticks broke up the larger clods of earth: then came ox-drawn ploughs followed by sowers scattering seed by hand, and sheep or goats to tread the seed in.

Growing season
During the growing season, the farmers worked hard weeding and watering the crops. They also help to protect them from birds, and from straying cattle and even the hippopotamus.

Egyptian most important crops were wheat and barley, and flax which they grew for linen and linseed oil. Grain was harvested in March or April. All work in the fields and the threshing floor was a communal effort, and land owner provided musicians to play flutes while peasants worked.

End of the Season
The beehive-shaped silo each stored one type of grain, and a small farm would have several of them. Then everyone celebrated in honor of Renenutet, guardian goddess of harvest. The middle of March marked the beginning of the summer season of drought and heat. During this period it was vital to repair any damaged irrigation canals before the soil dried out and became too hard to dig. For a few weeks farmers enjoyed a brief rest before the floods came again.
Egyptian Farming and Food in 1300 BC