Agriculture accounted for most of ancient Greece's economy. Like many economies in the ancient world, agriculture was the main source of income for many people. Owning land was the greatest sign of wealth and a large portion of Greek citizens owned and farmed land. Greece is a rocky place with poor soil so not all crops could thrive in the region. This meant that many crops had to be imported from neighboring regions.The Greeks were able to produce a number of crops like:
- Figs and other fruits
In addition to these different types of foods, the Greeks also had various animals which they used for food among other things. The types of animals of Greek farms where:
- Honey Bees(not considered a animal but considered livestock)
Many of these animals were raised on a small scale due to the fact that the majority of farms where small family owned farms. In Greece there where some large farms owned by wealthy aristocrats but the majority of the farms were owned by families. Many family's had slaves working on their farms which increased profitability from farms.
Farming was revolutionized in many ways in Greece. The Greeks invented ingenious machinery that increased efficiency in crop production and yield below I have gone into detail on some of those inventions
Manually Operated Mill
The Greeks used manually operated mills to grind grain. Grain was a main staple in Greek diet so when a Greek inventor invented the manually operated mill grain prices fell drastically.
The mill consists of two stones that are cylindrical. The bottom stone was fixed whereas the upper one rotated by means of a handle. Grain was poured into the upper stone and was grounded by the 2 stones rotating against each other peripherally due to the centrifugal force. Although turning the mill was hard work grain was able to be grinneded into almost a powder.
Olives where a cash crop in Greece. Olives were exported at a high rate and olive oil was an expensive commodity around the ancient world. Olive Presses where used to turn fresh olives into olive oil. The olive press the Greeks used was called a "Crowbar compression" This type of press was founded on the island of Thirasia. The Press works in a lever like system. Olive pulp was put into stacks and was compressed by means of a lever, heavy stones where on the other side of the lever to act as a counterbalance.
Animal Driven Mill
After the invention of the manually operated mill came the invention of the animal driven mill which was a mill used for grinding stone that was driven by animals instead of human force. Cattle,donkeys or mules where commanly used to push the mill.
The animal driven mill worked in a simple yet highly effective way. A stone rotated by means of an animal around a pillar. Grain was poured onto the stone and when the animal moved around the pillar the stone was grinded.
I hope this article has enlightened you to farming practises and the business of farming in ancient Greece. View my profile for more great articles on ancient Greece.