Binding and pulling grain in the Egypt of the pharaohs
The accompanying cut is a good restoration of the Gallic harvester of Pliny's day. Palladius wrote the De re Rustica in the fourth century A. D. and gives a good description of this contrivance, which was similar to our "heading-machines," having a row of sharp teeth at the front edge, between which the straw passed, the head being torn off at the angle where the teeth met, and falling into the box of the machine.
The description of Palladius is as follows: —" In the plains of Gaul, they use this quick way of reaping, and without reapers cut large fields with an ox in one day. For this purpose a machine is made, carried upon two wheels; the square surface has boards erected at the side, which sloping outward, make a wider space above; the board on the fore part is lower than the others; upon it there are a great many small teeth, wide set in a row, answering to the hight of the can of the corn, and turned upward at the ends; on the back part of this machine two short shafts are fixed, like the poles of a litter; to these an ox is yoked with his head to the machine, and the yoke and traces likewise turned the contrary way: he is well trained, and does not go faster than he is driven. When this machine is pushed through the standing corn, all the ears are comprehended by the teeth, and heaped up in the hollow part of it, being cut off from the straw, which is left behind; the driver setting it higher or lower, as he finds it necessary; and thus, by a few goings and returnings, the whole field is reaped. This machine does very well in plain and smooth fields, and in places where there is no necessity for feeding with straw."