chapter  III
Feeding the Army: The Agrarian Settlement
Pages 35

The basic tool of Roman agriculture,9 other than the spade, was the simple scratch plow, without share or coulter. The limitations of agri-

culturedependentuponsuchaplowweremany.Onlylightupland soilscouldbetilled;morefertilebottomlandsrequiredaplowthat wouldcutthroughtheearth.Plowingwasnecessarilyshallow.andthe fertilityofarablelandwasquicklydepleted.Moreover,sincetheearth wasnotturnedintheprocessofplowing.eachplothadtobetilled twice,inacrisscrosspattern,beforeseedingandharrowing.Roman fieldsthereforetendedtoberectangular.andrequiredalargenumber oftime-consumingturningsoftheplowinadditiontotheirneedtobe tilledtwice.toTheadvantagesoftheoverallsystemwerethatitrequiredlittlecapitalinvestmentinthewayofdraftanimals,harness, andplows.llThedisadvantageswerethatitwaslabor-intensiveand relativelylowinproductivityperunitofbothlandandlabor.Nevertheless.itwasasystemthatwassufficientlywelladaptedtothelands oftheMediterraneanlittoral,whereRomansocietyhadoriginatedand wherethebulkofitspopulationwasstillconcentrated.Muchofthe landthereconsistedoflight,rockysoilsinwhichtheuseofexpensive heavyplowswouldhaveprovidedonlyasmallincreaseinproductivity atbest.