ï~~Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists 44 (2007) 175-178 Grain Yield Ratios in PNess. 3.82 (VII) Philip Mayerson New York University Abstract Reconsideration of the (high) grain yield rations in P.Ness. 3.82. The grain was likely a "maslin," mixed with barley and other contaminants. Of all the papyrological documents uncovered at the Byzantine site of Nessana in the southern Negev of Palestine, PNess. 3.82 is most unusual. It is unusual in the sense that for its time and place, it is our only written record of precise amounts of wheat and barley planted and harvested, all expressed in terms of modii. Although we have many references to yield ratios of wheat and barley in literary sources, these range widely.' What is even more remarkable is the yield ratios recorded in P.Ness. 3.82 have come from a region with a rainfall insufficient to produce meaningful crops of wheat and barley. Excerpting that portion of PNess. 3.82, which records completed entries for the amount of grain (oiroc) sown and harvested in the area of Birein (edq tiv yflv Bepdetv), we get the following yield ratios: Place Modii sown Harvested Yield ratio Site 1 40 270 6.75 Site 2 40 288 7.20 Site 3 180 1225 6.80 For barley (Kptr), RNess 3.82 records the following: Site 3 50 402 8.04 Site 4 40 350 8.75 J.K. Evans in his well-documented article on "Wheat Production and its Social Consequences in the Roman World," CQ 31 (1981) comments (p. 429) "few problems have seemed less capable of resolution, for the evidence with regard to wheat yield is at once meager and plainly contradictory." He goes on to say (p. 430): "Such is the evidence (one can hardly call it statistical), and it may readily be apportioned into three divisions: the fourfold return adduced by Columella; the eight- to tenfold yields cited in Cicero and Varro; and the extraordinary returns of one hundredfold and more recorded by Varro and Pliny"
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