Ancient Greek Farming

Ancient Greek Farming: Agriculture was the backbone of the Greek economy. As much as 80% of the population was fully engaged in pursuing this occupation as a means of their subsistence. All the foods which were cultivated by the Greek people were used for their own consumption thereby leaving no scope for the trade of such products.

Ancient Greek Farming

However, Greece suffered from two main drawbacks: Firstly, since all the city-states were separated by mountains it was difficult for the people from one city-state to trade food with people from the rest of the city-states and secondly, the land which had good soil was extremely limited. Only 20% of the total land was Even after facing so many difficulties due to the demographical factors, yet agriculture continued to be practiced with the same level of importance.

Ancient Greek Farming

Ancient Greek Farming: Facts

Barley was the main cereal crop for the Greeks. Out of the total cereal production, almost 90% was dedicated to barley alone. It was used by the Greeks either in their porridge or used in preparing bread. Barley along with wheat was sowed around the month of October and was harvested in April or May.

Similarly, olives were used as cooking oil or oil to be put in lamps came to be harvested between the last leg of autumn till early winter. Harvesting was done either by hand or with the help of a pole. Grapes were cultivated mainly for the production of wine though they could be eaten or dried into raisins.

Ancient Greek Farming

During spring, farmers practiced biennial crop rotation, alternating from year to year between uncultivated and cultivated. Subsequently, though farmers also started practicing triennial crop pattern, yet it failed on account of a variety of reasons like poor soil pattern, the absence of mechanization and so on. Additionally, due to the less number of cattle, an ancient Greek farmer also could not take help of animal manure as a mode of fertilizing the soil.

Farms, in those times, were small fragments of land, not more than four to five acres. Though whatever was produced by a farmer was used for his self-consumption, yet, if there was any surplus left over he would sell it in the local market.

An ancient Greek farmers life was an extremely difficult one on two counts namely because many people depended for their food subsistence on the crops cultivated by them and the climatic conditions were not so favorable so as to enable a peasant to cultivate more.

Ancient Greek Farming

Crops in Greece

It rained heavily during winters and scantily during the summers, both of which is not favorable from a farmers point of view. Apart from this, the soil was also not very conducive to farming as it was too dry and rocky which made it difficult for the crops to grow and the farmers had to pay large amounts of taxes to the Greek Government.

Ancient Greek Farming Tools

For almost four centuries, the state in which Greece agriculture was practiced did not change. The same ordinary tools which existed before continued to exist as it is. No attempts were made to produce any such new tools which could ease off the labor work of the ancient Greek farmer.

Ancient Greek Farming

It was only with the rise of the Romans that there appeared some change in this scenario as water mill came to be introduced. In this method, the hydraulic power came to be employed which supplemented muscle power.

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