Tag Archive: wheat harvest



Linear B tablet KN 777a K b 01 & the wheat (and barley) harvest:

Linear B tablet 777a K b 01

Linear B tablet KN 777a K b 01 deals with the wheat and barley harvest at Knossos, without specifying the amount of the barley harvest, and then goes on to enumerate the wheat harvests alone at Amnisos and Phaistos. We note that the toponyms go by their ethnic names. So I have deemed it appropriate to translate their names as “by the farmers of”... + locale. I find it very suspicious that the scribe has chosen to allot 100 + hectares to every single locale. Bizarre. Maybe he was high on something. But of course, I doubt that. The only alternative explanation that I can think of is that the palace administration at Knossos capped the wheat harvest at each of these milieux. Otherwise, the total amount of wheat produced would have filled the granaries (presumably at Knossos) to the bursting point.  


Linear B tablet KN 847 K j 61, wheat production at Knossos for one lunar month:

Knossos tablet KN 847 K j 61 monthly cultivation of wheat

Linear B tablet KN 847 K j 61 deals with wheat production at Knossos for one month (we do not know which month). Soanobotos is the wheat farmer. Note that the ideogram for “month” looks like the moon, which is scarcely surprising. The output of wheat at 12 hectares for this particular month is in line with the extent of wheat production we might expect from the large expanse of fields surrounding a city as large as Knossos (population ca. 55,000). It is absolutely critical to understand that, in ancient times as in modern in the Mediterranean basin, the production of wheat could not have extended through every month of the year. Far from it. That is par for the course in any civilization, ancient or modern. The second point, which stage of production are we dealing with here? This tablet does not make it at all clear. Is is spring and are we dealing with the sowing of wheat? Or is it autumn, and the harvesting of wheat. My bet is decidedly in favour of the latter scenario. Now it is more than likely that harvesting of wheat was spread over two months at most, since the autumns are warm in the Mediterranean. So we can expect that something in the order of the number of “hectares” = 12 for this month, let’s say it is lunar “September”, would be repeated for the next month, lunar “October”, though probably on a somewhat lesser scale, let’s say 8 hectares. That would yield a crop of 20 “hectares” harvested for the current year. Pretty decent, I would say. Not only that, we must keep firmly in mind that this crop is only that of Soanobotos, who is only 1 of God knows how many farmers at Knossos. There could have been as few as 20 or as many as 50. No one knows for sure. So the wheat crop harvested at Knossos alone could have run to 240 hectares at a conservative estimate. Just about right on target for such a large city. If a conservative estimate for both of the lunar months is taken into account, the harvest runs to 400 hectares! We’ll never know, but it is always worthwhile conjecturing, and in any case, the wheat crop at Knossos would have had to be pretty substantial.

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