The Garden Guide

Book: History of Garden Design and Gardening
Chapter: Chapter 1: Gardening in the Ancient World

Historic garden tools

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37. The first implement used in cultivating the soil, all antiquarians agree, must have been of the pick kind. A medal of the greatest antiquity, dug up near Syracuse, contained the impression of such an implement (fig. 5. a). Some of the oldest Egyptian hieroglyphics have similar representations (b); and Eckeberg has figured what may be considered as the primitive spade of China (c). In the beginning of the sixteenth century, when Peru was discovered by the Spaniards, the gardeners of that country had no other spade than a pointed stick, of which the more industrious made use of two at a time (d). The Chinese implement bears the highest marks of civilisation, since it has a hilt or cross handle, and a tread for the foot; and consequently supposes the use of shoes or sandles by the operator, and an erect position of his body. The Roman spade (ligo), that of Italy (zappa), and of France (beche), are either flattened or two-clawed picks, which are worked entirely by the arms, and keep the operator constantly bent almost to the ground; or long-handled wooden spatulï¾µ, also worked solely by the arms, but with the body in a more erect position. Both kinds equally suppose a bare-footed operator, like the Grecian and Peruvian gardeners, and many of those of France and Italy at the present day.