A threshing-board is an obsolete farm implement used to separate cereals from their straw; that is, to thresh. It is a thick board, made with a variety of slats, with a shape between rectangular and trapezoidal, with the frontal part somewhat narrower and curved upward (like a sled or sledge) and whose bottom is covered with stone shards (lithic flakes), or razor-like metal blades.

One form, once common in the Mediterranean Sea area, was "about three to four feet wide and six feet deep (these dimensions often vary, however), consisting of two or three wooden planks assembled to one another, of more than four inches wide, in which several hard and cutting flints crammed into the bottom part pull along over the grains. In the rear part there is a large ring nailed, that is used to tie the rope that pulls it and to which two horses are usually harnessed; and a person, sitting on the threshing-board, drives it in circles over the cereal that is spread on the threshing floor. Should the person need more weight, he need only put some big stones over it." [, when Ruth "beat out" what she had gleaned during the day, and , is an example of this. The Egyptians used this rather inefficient mode of threshing with multiple oxen, and this mode is still in use in the East.All four methods are discussed at length in the Talmud.

Two apparently coincident descriptive narratives are given in and ). [In 1 Samuel 14:18-19 we find the order concerning the rearing of an altar, as well as the indication of the site, as brought directly by the Prophet Gad. In 1 Chronicles 21:18-19, we find from whom Gad got his commission. In the later stages of Israel's history we find angels employed in communicating the divine will to the prophets.]
*Araunah's threshing floor was located on a hilltop called Mount Moriah. It is the same location of Abraham's attempted sacrifice of his son, Isaac (. It means that only the grain is gathered and admitted into the kingdom of God, while the chaff is cast into the unquenchable fire.
*On this hilltop was later built Solomon's Temple (. However, this contradiction is only on the surface. The 50 shekels was the initial price to purchase the two oxen and the threshing floor, but the later price of 600 shekels was paid to purchase the property of Mount Moriah in addition to the oxen and threshing floor contained within and earlier purchased. [In 2 Samuel 24:24, the reference is to the immediate purchase of the two oxen and wooden threshing cart only for 50 shekels of silver. David's exact words in verse 21 are as follows: "To buy the threshing floor from you, in order to build an altar to the Lord" (NASB). The market price for the two oxen and the cart would scarcely exceed the 50 shekels of silver under the market values then prevailing. In 1 Chronicles 21:25, however, we are told that David paid the much larger price of 600 shekels of gold (about 180 times the price of 50 shekels of silver). But on closer examination of 1 Chronicles 21:25, the reference is to the purchase of not the two oxen and threshing cart which was earlier purchased, but the entire site containing them. The Hebrew for the sentence "And David gave to Ornan for the place" is far more inclusive than a mere threshing floor. Neither in the fifth century B.C. nor in any other period in ancient history would a threshing floor have fetched such a price as 600 shekels of gold. Consequently, it is safely concluded that Araunah (or Ornan), the owner of the threshing floor (and the oxen and threshing cart), possessed the entire area of Mount Moriah, and that David purchased this entire real estate for 600 shekels of gold in addition to the 50 shekels of silver for the threshing cart and two oxen. Moreover, the difference in price was the result of David's afterthought to purchase the entire site rather than just the threshing floor earlier purchased, and the record in 1 Chronicles 21:25 was written from a standpoint of the transaction's final result, since its record was made chronologically later than that of 2 Samuel 24:24, even though the epochs of the two prices probably occurred within a year of each other. And the afterthought resulted from David's realization of an advantageous opportunity to purchase Mount Moriah (a hilltop) for religious and governmental purposes.]

Generally, all threshing floors were located on hilltops, not to associate with the various gods, but to expose them to prevailing winds that assist in the process of winnowing. The wind adds to the typology of the threshing floor, as the wind is a type of the Holy Ghost (see . The term "floor" is the Greek "halon" which means threshing floor, and this fits the import of the two verses. The typology of the threshing floor on Mount Moriah, Solomon's Temple, and these two verses are significant.

As for the word "thresh," The last biblical mention is in (página 421)]

In Rome, the threshing-board had only economic significance, without the religious symbolism it took on in ancient Israel. The treatises of agriculture written by Roman experts as Cato, Varro, Columella and Pliny the Elder (quoted above), touch the topic of threshing. In chronological order:

*Cato: In the time of Cato the Elder—that is, the 2nd century BC—Rome was intensely connected with the conquered areas of Greece and Carthage, whose higher degree of agricultural development threatened Roman traditionalism. Cato's book "De Agricultura" [ [ De Agricultura] ] was against exotic innovations such as the threshing-board in its different variants, defending instead a traditional agricultural system based on manual labour. To some writers, Cato's ideas drove, indirectly, to the disintegration of republican society and even the imperial economy. Cato preferred threshing by trampling by mules or oxen. He doesn't expressly mention the threshing-board, in spite of the fact it was already spreading through the empire. It is, then, "almost impossible to define, on the basis of Cato's report, when this or that implement or refinement came into use". [es icon "« [resulta] casi imposible definir, sobre la base de la exposición de Catón, cuando entró en uso tal o cual instrumento, cuándo fue aplicado tal o cual perfeccionamiento»": cite book
author = Kovaliov, Sergei I.
title = Historia de Roma
year = Third edition, 1979
publisher = Akal Editor
location = Madrid
id = ISBN 84-7339-455-0
p. 178

*Varro: Unlike Cato, Marcus Terentius Varro was not a man of action but a scholar, a πολιγραφοτάτω, in the 1st century BC. Varro, whose studies were wider than Cato's, tried to combine the cosmopolitan Greek outlook with Rome's provincial traditions. In his book of agricultural advice "Rerum Rusticarum de Agri Cultura" [la icon " [ "Rerum Rusticarum de Agri Cultura" online in the original Latin] "] Varro only twice reflects the reality of his times by mentioning threshing-boards. He advises, "None of the implements that can be produced in the plantation (farm) itself should be bought, as with almost all everything which is made from unfinished wood such as hampers, baskets, threshing-boards, stakes, rakes…"; [Varro, "Rerum Rusticarum…" Liber primus, XII: "«Quae nasci in fundo ac fieri a domesticis poterunt, eorum nequid ematur, ut fere sunt quae ex viminibus et materia rustica fiunt, ut corbes, fiscinae, tribula, valli, rastelli…»"] the inclination to self-sufficiency that he demonstrates here would later be harmful to Rome. Varro nonetheless shows himself more open to innovation that Cato: "To achieve an abundant and high-quality harvest, the stalks should be taken to the threshing floor without piling them up, so the grain is in the best condition, and the grain (should be) separated from the stalks on the threshing floor, a process which is done, among other ways, with a pair of mules and a threshing-board. This is made with a wooden board (with its underside) equipped with stone-chips or saws of iron, which, with a plow in front or a large counterweight, is pulled by a pair of mules yoked together and thus separates the grain from the stalks…". [Varro, "Rerum Rusticarum…" Liber primus, LII. "«Quae seges grandissima atque optima fuerit, seorsum in aream secerni oportet spicas, ut semen optimum habeat; e spicis in area excuti grana. Quod fit apud alios iumentis iunctis ac tribulo. Id fit e tabula lapidibus aut ferro asperata, quae cum imposito auriga aut pondere grandi trahitur iumentis iunctis, discutit e spica grana;…»"] That is, he explains in a very didactic way how the threshing-boards works and the advantages of this innovative device. Next, he talks about the variant called "plostellum poenicum" (="punicum"=Punic=Carthaginian), a threshing implement with rollers and metallic saws whose origin is, as we have already seen, Carthaginian, and which was used in Hispania (which had, in the past, been controlled by Carthage): "Another way to make it is by means of a cart with teethed rollers and bearings; this cart is named "plostellum punicum", in which one can sit and move the device that is pulled by mules, as it is done in Hispania Citerior and other places." [Varro, "Rerum Rusticarum…" Liber primus, LII. "«…aut ex axibus dentatis cum orbiculis, quod vocant plostellum poenicum; in eo quis sedeat atque agitet quae trahant iumenta, ut in Hispania citeriore et aliis locis faciunt.»"]

*Columella (Lucius Junius Moderatus, beginning of Common Era - 60s): a native of Hispania Baetica; after finishing its military career, Columella worked managing large estates. This writer from Hispania brings a new note to this topic, writing, in this case, about threshing floors: "The threshing floor, if it is possible, must be placed in such way that it can be overseen by the master or by the foreman; the best is one that is cobbled, because not only allows that the cereal be quickly threshed, since the ground don't give way to the blows of hoofs and threshing-boards, but also, these cereals, before being winnowed, are cleaner and lack the pebbles and little clods that always remaine in a threshing floor of pressed earth." [ [ De Re Rustica, cap VI] : "«Area, si competit, ita constituenda est, ut vel a domino vel certe a procuratore despici possit. Eaque optima est silice constrata, quod et celeriter frumenta deteruntur, non cedente solo pulsibus ungularum tribularumque, et eadem ventilata mundiora sunt, lapillisque carent et glaebulis, quas per trituram fere terrena remittit area.»"]

*Pliny: Pliny the Elder (23 - 79) only compiles what his predecessors had written, which we have already quoted. [ [*.html#lxxii Naturalis Historia, Liber XVIII (naturae frugum), lxxii - 298] .]

Middle Ages

We will speak of the Middle Ages in a broad sense, without entering into great detail and focusing, essentially, on Western Europe because it is difficult to find any trustworty documents about threshing-boards in that era. The barbarian invasions of Europe had detrimental effects upon agriculture as well as upon the general economy, leading to the loss of many of the more advanced techniques, among them the threshing-board, which was completely alien to Germanic tradition. The eastern Mediterranean areas, on the other hand, continued the use of the threshing-board, passing into the Muslim culture, where it took deep root.

In the Iberian Peninsula, in the Visigothic kingdom and the Christian zone during the "Reconquista", the threshing-board was little known (although awareness of it never quite disappeared [Isidore of Seville in his "Etymologiae" (Libro XVII: La agricultura), simply repeats what the classical sources had to say on this theme, indicating his merely slight familiarity with the technology.] ). The degradation extended not only to the economy, but also to the very sources that we have to study the period: scholars are confronted with a documentary void that is difficult to get around. It is certain that in Islamic Al-Andalus, the threshing board continued to be very popular, which led to the Christians recuperating the tradition as they advanced in the "Reconquista." This act coincides with a generalized recovery in all of Europe. Economic prosperity began to return at the start of the 11th century; the experts speak of the increased area of tilled lands; the increased use of draft animals (first oxen, thanks to the frontal yoke, and later horses, thanks to harness collar); of the increase in metal tools and improved metalworking; of the appearance of the moldboard plough, often with wheels; and the increase in watermills. Livestock became a sign of progress: peasants, less dependent and more prosperous, became able to buy draft animals, and even plows. The peasants who had their own plow and one or two draft animals were a small elite, pampered by the feudal lord, who acquired a distinct status, that of "yeoman farmers", quite distinct from "farm-hand labourer" whose only tool was their own arms.cite book
author = Duby, Georges
title = The early growth of the European economy. Warriors and Peasants from the Seventh to the Twelfth Century
year = 1974
publisher = Cornell University Press
location = Ithaca, New York
id = ISBN 080149169X
.] The existence of draft animals does not imply the diffusion of the threshing-board in Western Europe, where the flail continued to be the preferred threshing implement. [The threshing-board, as we have had occasion to repeat throughout this article, was expensive, as were the conditions of its use, only the wealthy laborers and the nobility could afford a threshing board and a plow. Its use was, perhaps, another lordly ban, and thus a mark of a bondage. On the other hand, the flail was a cheap, simple tool, which anyone could get hold of and which supposed a certain independence and freedom.] On the other hand, in Spain, the weight of Eastern tradition made the difference: Professor Julio Caro Baroja admits that in Spain the threshing-board appears cited or represented in works of art. Concretely, he mentions some Romanesque reliefs in Beleña (Salamanca) and Campisábalos (Guadalajara), both from the 12th century. [cite book
author = Caro Baroja Julio
title = Tecnología popular española
year = 1983
publisher = Editorial Nacional, Colección Artes del tiempo y del espacio, Madrid
id = ISBN 84-276-0588-9
p. 98
] One may add a document written in 1265, in which a woman named Doña Mayor (widow of one Don Arnal, an ecclesiastical tax collector, and thus a person of good position), leaves to the diocese chapter of Salamanca her inheritance of "Valcuevo", a farm in the municipality of Valverdón, Salamanca:

And I, Doña Mayor, leave on my death these two yokings of country state above referred to the Cathedral Chapter, well preserved with 76 bushels of wheat, 38 bushels of rye, and 38 bushels of barley to seed each yoking and with ploughshares, and with plows, and with ploughbeams, and with threshing-boards and with all the accoutrements that a well-laid-out property should have. [Diocesan archive of Salamanca: "«Et yo, donna Mayor, devo dexar a mia muerte estas duas yugadas de heredat devandichas al cabildo bien allinadas, con quatro kafiçes de trigo, et un kafiz de centeno, et un kafiz de cevada pora semiente cada yugada, et con reias, et con arados, et con timones, et con trillos et con todo appayamiento que heredade bien allinnada deve aver»"]

These documents, at least testify for the presence of threshing-boards, which, undoubtedly was continuous from then until recently in the Mediterranean basin. The rest is mere generalized speculation, given that traditional historiography centers on features more like of Western Europe. In any case, none of the consulted authors describe the threshing-board as playing a relevant part in the progress of medieval agriculture. We must, then, join with the despair of French historian Georges Duby, in his complaint:

Through all that has been said, we can see how interesting it would be to measure the influence of technical progress on agricultural output. Nevertheless, we must renounce this hope. Before the end of the 12th century, the methods of seignorial administration were all quite primitive; they granted little importance to writing and even less to numbers. The documents are more deceptive than those of the Carolingian era." [Georges Duby, op. cit. page 249 : "«A través de cuanto hemos dicho se ve el interés que tendría la medición de la incidencia del progreso técnico en el rendimiento de la empresa agrícola. Sin embargo, hay que renunciar a hacerla. Antes de fines del siglo XII, los métodos de la administración señorial son todavía muy primitivos; conceden poca importancia a la escritura y menos aún a las cifras. Los documentos son más decepcionantes que los de la época carolingia»"]


Nowadays, numerous elements of traditional agriculture are being lost, and because of this various entities have been working to conserve or recover this cultural capital. Among these is an international interdisciplinary project called E.A.R.T.H., Early Agricultural Remnants and Technical Heritage. Participating countries include Bulgaria, Canada, France , Russia, Scotland, Spain, and the United States, in alphabetical order. Investigations center on broad archeological, documentary and ethnological aspects, related to diverse elements of traditional agriculture, threshing-boards among them, in diverse countries, historical periods and societies. [ [ E.A.R.T.H.] , official site.]

Chronology of evidences referred in the article
ImageSize = width:730 height:100PlotArea = width:700 height:50 left:20 bottom:30TimeAxis = orientation:horizontalDateFormat = yyyyPeriod = from:-6000 till:2000AlignBars = earlyScaleMajor = unit:year increment:1000 start:-6000Colors = id:canvas value:rgb(1,1,0.85)BackgroundColors = canvas:canvasPlotData= bar:a width:15 color:teal from:-5800 till:-5200 from:-4800 till:-4200 from:-3450 till:-3370 from:-3348 till:-3300 from:-2600 till:-2500 from:-1420 till:-1208 from:-1005 till:-965 from:-740 till:-698 from:-234 till:-149 from:-116 till:-27 from:10 till:79 from:1230 till:1280 from:1500 till:1950 bar:d width:15 color:canvas from:-5800 till:-5200 align:center fontsize:S text:First discoveries from:-5000 till:-4000 align:center fontsize:S text:Aratashen at:-3400 align:right fontsize:S text:Kish at:-3374 align:left fontsize:S text:Arslantepe from:-2700 till:-2400 align:center fontsize:S text:Puabi at:-1150 align:right fontsize:S text:Deuteronomy from:-1005 till:-965 align:center fontsize:S text:David at:-810 align:left fontsize:S text:Isaiah from:-234 till:79 align:center fontsize:S text:Latin texts at:1200 align:center fontsize:S text:Medieval at:1850 align:center fontsize:S text:Cantalejo

Craftsmen from Cantalejo

Cantalejo is located at the confluence of the Duraton River and the Cega River. Modern Cantalejo arose in the 11th century, although there are architectural remains that are much older, and forms part of Segovia province in Spain. It was apparently prosperous at the beginning but, lost its liberty in the 17th Century and became a jurisdictional lordship. There is no clear record of when the specialized craft of making threshing-boards was introduced into Cantalejo, but all who have written on the topic indicate that it was probably during the 16th or 17th century. [cite book
author = González Torices, José Luis y Díez Barrio, Germán
chapter = Capítulo IV, La Trilla
title = Aperos de madera
year = 1991
language = Spanish
publisher = Ámbito Ediciones, for the Junta de Castilla y León
id = ISBN 84-86770-48-3
pages = 135-161

*cite book
author = Caro Baroja Julio
title = Tecnología popular española
year = 1983
language = Spanish
publisher = Editorial Nacional, Colección Artes del tiempo y del espacio
location = Madrid
id = ISBN 84-276-0588-9
pages = 98

The production of threshing-boards appears to coincide with the arrival of foreign artisans, although this is speculation based on the fact that the artisans' form of speech includes aspects of many foreign languages, especially French. The makers of threshing-boards and plows were called "«Briqueros»", a word of French origin that refers to the making of tinderboxes and matchlocks for guns, which in France were called "briquets", literally in archaic French: "«Petite pièce d’acier dont on se sert pour tirer du feu d’un caillou.»" (today, synonym of briquette or flammable matter, but also refers to a lighter) for the early firearms (Flintlocks, arquebuses, muskets...). It is therefore plausible that foreign gunsmiths introducing firearms in the Iberian Peninsula created an important colony in Cantalejo, although it is difficult to determine their origin [There are similar cases in other parts of Europe. For example, in England, "a new industry was born at Brandon, Suffolk nearly 200 years ago when men who may well have been immigrants to the town began the knapping of gunflints whose effectiveness was proved on the field of Waterloo." [ See that web-site]
The writer A. J. Forrest still knew flintknappers fifty years ago and wrote a book about this unusual industry, which flourished in times of war and survived thanks to exports to distant parts of the British Empire; the last documented exports were sent to Cameroon in 1947.cite book
author = Forrest, A. J.
title = Masters of Flint
year = 1983
publisher = Terence Dalton
id = ISBN 0-86138-016-9

Something similar may have occurred in Cantalejo, but without the military power of Great Britain or its empire, the Spanish "briqueros" had to adapt their production to the national market, agriculture.

In any case, with time Cantalejo opted for peaceful and productive crafts such as the making of diverse agricultural implements, including threshing-boards. By the 1950s, Cantalejo had reached 400 workshops producing more than 30,000 threshing-boards each year; this suggests that more than half the population was dedicated to this occupation. The threshing-boards were then distributed throughout the entire Meseta Central of Spain.

This article concentrates on threshing-boards made only with flint chips, although there were threshing-boards made with metal teeth or according to other, less common designs.cite journal
last = Siguero
first = Amparo
url =
title = Los trilleros
year = 1984
journal = [ Revista de Folklore]
language = Spanish
volume = Tomo: 04a
issue = número: 41
id = [ Caja España] . [ Fundación Joaquín Díaz]
pages = 175–180

*cite journal
author = Benito del Rey, Luis y Benito Álvarez, José-Manuel
title = Trilleros, en busca del eslabón perdido (I, II y III)
year =1995
language = Spanish
journal = La Frontera del Duero
volume = Año 1
issue = Números 1, 2 y 3
id = Depósito Legal, AV 121-1995

Making the wooden frame

At the end of summer, or in the autumn, work began with the selection of black pines, which they cut and carefully smoothed with a device called a "tronzador" until the trunks were formed into cylinders nearly two meters in length; these log sections were called "tozas". They also prepared long, straight planks to serve as transverse headpieces. They carried the log sections to the sawmill, where they cut slats as wide as the log permitted (no less than 20 centimeters), of some five centimeters in thickness and with a curved shape (just like a ski) on the end that would eventually be in front. The planks were dried in the sun for several months, turned over every so often. The village during this period took on a peculiar appearance, as many buildings had their façades covered with drying planks. Afterwards, these were piled in "castillos", crossing some slats with others in order to make the pile more stable.

Once the slat was in the right conditions, the next process was chiseling: using a hammer and chisel to prepare the slots ("ujeros") for the chips of flint ("chinas" or lithic flakes). The chiseling was done with the slats front-on, guided by pencil-marks so the workman wouldn't err. Before beginning, the workman made sure that the slat had not warped since being cut, as that would make it unusable.

The next pass took place in the mechanical presses; the Spanish language term for these was "cárceles", "jails". The three, four, or five planks had to be perfectly joined: spread with glue and pressed, using small reinforcement jigs, called "tasillos" (wooden cylinders glued and nailed with a mallet at the edges of a slat), and wedges. When the slats were well-aligned and fixed in place, the "cabezales" (headers), or crosspieces, were nailed in place with big nails known in Spain as "puntas de París" (although, at least in the 19th and 20th centuries, they came from Bilbao).

Once the basic structure of the threshing board is ready, it must be smoothed. This is first done by "working" it with an adze lengthwise, along the grain. Then the final finishing is done with various specialized carpenter's planes, on both top and bottom; first going across in a transverse direction, and later lengthwish.

The final phase of the work consisted of covering the junctions of the slats on the top side, which is done with thin strips at the front, tacked on with a board called the "frontpiece", and on the rest using long thin little boards ("tapajuntas" or stopgaps). On the front header they attached a strong hook for the "barzón", or iron ring with a strap or a long rod for tying on the drafthorses or oxen.

Working the stone flakes

To create the lithic flakes used to cover threshing-boards, the "briqueros" in Cantalejo used a manufacturing technique similar to prehistoric methods of making tools, except that they used metal hammers rather than percussors made of stone, wood, or antler.cite journal
author = Benito del Rey, Luis y Benito Álvarez, José-Manuel
title = La taille actuelle de la pierre à la manière préhistorique. L'exemple des pierres pour Tribula à Cantalejo (Segovia - Espagne)
year = 1994
journal = Bulletin de la Société Préhistorique Française
volume = Tome 91
issue = Numéro 3, mai-juin
id = ISSN 0249-7638
(p. 214-222)]

The raw materials preferred by these artisans was a whitish flint imported from the province of Guadalajara. When they had to repair threshing-boards at home, if they did not have any other raw materials, they would use rounded river pebbles, made of homogeneous, high-grade quartzite, which they selected during their travels. The flint from Guadalajara was extracted from quarries in large blocks, which were split by hand with hammers of various sizes until the stone reached a size small enough to be comfortably held in the hand.Knapping: Once manageable chunks of flint were obtained, knapping to obtain lithic flakes was performed using a very light hammer (called a "pickaxe") with a narrow handle and a pointed head. Knapping was considered "men's work." To work quartzite pebbles, they used a hammer with a head that was rounded and slightly wider. During the process of removing stone flakes, they sometimes resorted to a mormal hammer to crack the stone and achieve perussion plains inaccessible with the pickaxe alone.

The "briquero" held the stone core in the left hand, protected with a piece of leather and with the palm upward, and struck rapid blows using a pick held in the right hand. The stone flakes would fall into the palm of the right hand, on top of the leather protector, which allowed the worker to evaluate them during fractions of a second: if they were acceptable, the "briquero" allowed them to fall into a tin; if not, he threw them into a reject pile. [The activity is rhythmic and very rapid, too fast for an inexperinced observer to determine whether a chip is adequate or not to use in a threshing board -- whether it is too small, or too large, or has the proper shape.] This pile was also where the "briquero" threw used-up stone cores —that is, stone blocks incapable of producing more chips; pieces of stone broken by accident; cortical flint flakes, useless fragments, and debris.The working of pebbles was similar to the working of flint, except that with pebbles only the outside layer was chipped off. Thus, the pebbles were essentially "peeled" and discarded (unlike flint stones, whose interiors were worked until they were used up); using only the cortical flakes.

Covering the board with stone flakes was mainly the work of women called "enchifleras". The task is monotonous and repetitive. Up to three thousand lithic flakes may be pounded into a large threshing-board. In addition, it is necessary to sort the flakes: small ones in the front, medium-sized in the middle, and the largest on the sides and in the back. It is necessary to pound in each flake without damaging its sharp edge, although it was impossible to avoid leaving at least some small mark (a "spontaneous retouch" in technical terms). The tool used was a light hammer with a cylindrical head and flat or concave ends. The flakes are inserted into the cracks at their thickest part (technically, the percussion zone, that is, the proximal heel of the flake as it is struck off.)


Threshing-boards from Cantalejo captured nearly all the sales in Castile and León, Madrid, Castile-La Mancha, Aragon and Valencia. They sometimes also reached Andalusia y Cantabria.ref-artículo
autor = Siguero, Amparo
título = [ Los trilleros]
año = 1984
publicación = [ Revista de Folklore]
volumen = Tomo: 04a
número = número: 41
id = [ Caja España] . [ Fundación Joaquín Díaz]
(páginas 175-180)] At first, artesans from Cantalejo travelled with large carts loaded with selected threshing-boards, winnowing bellows, grain measures (of different traditional dry units: "celemín" is a wooden case with 4,6 L, "cuartilla" has 14 L, and "fanega" equivalent to 55.5 L...) and other implements for threshing or winnowing, which they peddled from town to town. They also carried flint chips, and tools and supplies for repairing damaged threshing-boards and farming iplements. In later times, they traveled by train to pre-arranged stations, and then in small trucks. They typically brought their entire families along; combined with their strange manner of speaking and unusual occupation, this gave the "briqueros" an air of mystery. They began selling threshing-boards as soon as the threshing-boards were complete, beginning in April and lasting until August. The "briqueros" would then return to their home town (the "Vilorio") to celebrate the festivals of the Assumption of Mary (August 15) and Saint Roch (August 16) with their families.


"Gacería" is a slang or argot used by makers and vendors of threshing-boards in Cantalejo and some other parts of Spain. It is not a technical vocabulary, but rather a code made up of a small group of words that allows the speakers to communicate freely in the presence of strangers without others understanding the content of the conversation.

"Gacería" was purely verbal, colloquial, and associated with the selling of threshing-boards; as a result, it largely disappeared with the mechanization of agriculture. Nevertheless, a number of studies have attempted to record its varied aspects. There are many doubts regarding the origin of the words that make up the vocabulary of "Gacería", including the word "Gacería" itself, which may derive from the Basque word "gazo," which means "ugly" or "good-for-nothing". [es icon cite book
author = Cuesta Polo, Marciano, coord.
title = Glosario de Gacería
year = 1993
publisher = Ayuntamiento de Cantalejo, Segovia
p. 5
] The most commonly-accepted opinion is that most of the words derive from French, with additions from other languages including Latin, Basque, Arabic, German, and even Caló.ref-artículo
autor = Siguero, Amparo
título = [ Los trilleros]
año = 1984
publicación = [ Revista de Folklore]
volumen = Tomo: 04a
número = número: 41
id = [ Caja España] . [ Fundación Joaquín Díaz]
(páginas 175-180)] What is certain is that the makers and vendors of threshing-boards took words from any area they visited regularly, creating a linguistic mishmash.

Related threshing implements

In general, the term "threshing-board" is used to refer to all the different variants of this primitive implement. Technically, we should distinguish at least the two main types of threshing-boards: the "threshing sledge," which is the subject of this article, and the "threshing cart."

The "threshing sledge" is the most common type. As its name indicates, it is dragged over the ripe grain, and it threshes using cutting pieces made of stone or metal. This is what is referred to in Hebrew as "mogag" (מורג) and in Arabic as "mowrej." Strictly speaking, the threshing-boards of the Middle East have characteristics that render them easily distinguishable from those found in Europe. On the Iberian peninsula, cutting blades found on the bottom part of the threshing-board are arranged on end and in rows roughly parallel to the direction of threshing. In contrast, the "mogag" and "mowrej" found to the Middle East have circular holes (made with a special short, wide drill) into which are pressed small round, semicircular stones with sharp ridges. (See a detail photo of a [ Middle-Eastern threshing-board] ).

As mentioned previously, not all threshing-boards are equipped with stones: some have metal knife blades embedded along the full length of the threshing board, and others have smaller blades encrusted here and there. Threshing sledges with metal knives usually have a few small wheels (four to six, depending on the size) with eccentric axes. These wheels protect the blades. They also make the threshing board wobble, causing parts of the board to rise and fall at random in an oscillating motion that improves the effectiveness of the threshing.

A second model, which the classic sources refer to as "plostellum punicum" (literally, the "Punic cart"), ought to be called "threshing cart". Although the Carthaginians, heirs of the Phoenicians, brought this model to the Western Mediterranean, this implement was known at least since the second millennium BC, appearing in the Babylonian texts with a name that we can transliterate as "gīš-bad". Both variants continued to be used well into the 20th century in Europe, and continue to be used in the regions where agriculture has not been mechanized and industrialized. Museums and collectors in Spain retain some threshing carts, which were once highly prized in areas such as the province of Zamora, where they were used to thresh garbanzos.


This article draws heavily on the corresponding article Trillo (agricultura) in the Spanish-language Wikipedia, accessed in the version of 20 November 2006.

External links

* [ Early Agricultural Remnants and Technical Heritage (EARTH)]
* Patricia C. Anderson, [ Sound and Science: an approach to the ethnoarchaeology of threshing cereals and pulses] , on the EARTH site.
* [ Reconstruction of a Mesopotamian threshing sledge] , reprint from EARTH
* [ tribulum: reconstitution d'un traineau à dépiquer mésopotamien] : "Threshing board: Reconstruction of a Mesopotamian threshing sledge" (drawings), Centre d'études Préhistorique, Antiquité, Moyen Âge (CEPAM), University of Nice
* [ Threshing sledges from the Bronze Age and today] (CEPAM / Centre de Recherches Archéologiques - CNRS)
* [ Día del Mundo Rural 2000] (Rural World Day 2000). Pictures from Miranda de Arga (Navarre, Spain).
* Laureano Molina Gómez, [ El trillo del abuelo] ("Grandfather's Threshing-board"),
* Amparo Siguera [ Los trilleros] ("The threshers"), "Revista de Folklore"; includes some illustrations

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