Palladius, Of Husbandry

Rutilius Taurus Aemilianus Palladius was a Roman writer from an élite family in Gaul who lived sometime between the late fourth and early fifth century of the common era. He is best known for his text on agriculture, De Re Rustica (Opus agriculturae).

The following is an adaptation of Cyrenus Osborne Ward, The Ancient Lowly, vol. 1. Chicago: Charles Kerr, 1888.

§ 7.2. In the more level parts of Gaul the following apparatus is in use for harvesting, which eliminates manual labour to such an extent that an ox can perform the entire task of harvesting. A cart or carriage is constructed furnished with two small wheels. On this carriage is mounted a square box made of planks, with the top larger in size than the bottom. The height of this cart-box is smaller in front than in the back. Here are fixed many small teeth, curved backwards, not so thickly set, so that the grain can get between them, and arranged in such a way that the heads of grain may enter above. Behind this cart are two small tongues or shafts, as if the animal were harnessed in a chair. Here the ox is fastened, his head towards the machine, by means of a yoke and chains. And when everything is ready, he begins to push the cart forward, into the grain. Thus every head of grain is caught between the teeth and torn from its stalk – which is left standing – and falls into the box. The machine is generally about the height of an ordinary small ox that propels it from behind. Thus after a few tries and in a very short space of time, the entire harvest is finished.