Sole ard

Mexican field turned over with moldboard plow (rather 16th C in design), probably pulled by an ox.

The Byzantine plow was, technically, not a plow at all, but a sole ard.

Boy, there’s a term you don’t see every day. “Sole ard.” Kinda makes your knees weak, doesn’t it?

FYI, apparently a sole ard scratches the surface rather than turning it over like the plows we see today. The tool is suitable for shallow tilling, as in arid areas, and requires less effort to use than moldboard plows (less force is needed than to overturn the soil).

Bryer, Anthony. 2002. “The Means of Agricultural Production: Muscle and Tools,” in The Economic History of Byzantium: From the Seventh through the Fifteenth Century, vol. 1, Studies, vol. 39. Edited by Angeliki E. Laiou, pp. 101–13. Washington, D.C.: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection. Page 107.


  1. Pooh says:

    I think that I remember learning in college that the invention of a harness for horses led to such an increase in effeciency, which in turn led to a decline in the number of human slaves. My memory is pretty fuzzy, possibly this was in Roman times? Certainly it didn’t end slavery, as sadder parts of US history show.

  2. Sammy says:

    Well, changes in the ratio of human labor to accomplish the “same” ends (intensification) free people’s time to do other things, and society changes in concert, usually.