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p1148 Tribula

Article by James Yates, M.A., F.R.S.,
on p1148 of

William Smith, D.C.L., LL.D.:
A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, John Murray, London, 1875.

TRI′BULA or TRI′BULUM (τριβόλος), a corn-drag, consisting of a thick and ponderous wooden board, which was armed underneath with pieces of iron or sharp flints and drawn over the cornº by a yoke of oxen, either the driver or a heavy weight being placed upon it, for the purpose of separating the grain and cutting the straw (Varro, de Re Rust. I.52; Ovid. Met. XIII.803; Plin. H.N. XVIII.30, Longus, III.22; Brunck, Anal. II.215; Amos, I.3). Together with the tribula another kind of drag, called traha, was also sometimes used, which it is probable was either entirely of stone or made of the trunk of a tree (Virg. Georg. I.164; Servius, ad loc.; Col. de Re Rust. II.21). These instruments are still used in Greece, Asia Minor, Georgia, and Syria, and are described by various travellers in those countries, but more especially by Paul Lucas (Voyage, vol. I p182), Sir R. K. Porter (Travels, vol. I p158), Jackson (Journey from India, p249), and C. Fellows, (Journal, pp70, 333). The corn is threshed upon a circular floor (area, ἅλων), either paved, made of hardened clay, or of the natural rock. It is first heaped in the centre, and a person is constantly occupied in throwing the sheaves under the drag as the oxen draw it round. Lucas and Fellows have given prints representing the tribula as now used in the East. The verb tribulare (Cato, de Re Rust. 23), and the verbal noun tribulatio were applied in a secondary sense to denote affliction in general.


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