How Was Wheat Harvested in Ancient Times?

In ancient times, wheat was one of the most important crops grown and harvested for food across the world. From the Egyptians to the Greeks, harvesting wheat was a labor-intensive process that required a lot of manual effort. Let’s explore how wheat was harvested in ancient times.

Preparation for Harvesting

Before harvesting, farmers had to prepare their fields by plowing and tilling the soil. This process helped loosen the soil and remove weeds, making it easier to harvest wheat. Once the soil was ready, farmers would plant their seeds in rows that were several feet apart.

Hand-Harvesting Wheat

In ancient times, wheat was harvested entirely by hand. Farmers would use sharp sickles to cut down stalks of wheat one by one. They had to be careful not to damage any other plants growing nearby.

Bundling Wheat into Sheaves

Once the stalks were cut down, farmers would gather them in their arms and bundle them into sheaves. A sheaf is a bunch of cut stalks tied together with straw or twine. These sheaves were then left in the field for several days until they dried out.

Threshing Wheat

After drying out, farmers used flails or sticks to beat the sheaves until all of the grains fell out. This process is called threshing. In some cases, farmers might have used animals like oxen or horses to trample over the wheat instead.

Winnowing Wheat

Once all of the grains were separated from the stalks, farmers would use winnowing forks or baskets to separate out any remaining debris or chaff from their harvest. The grains would then be cleaned and stored for future use.

The Importance of Wheat in Ancient Times

Wheat was a staple food in ancient times and a vital part of many cultures’ diets. It was used to make bread, porridge, and other dishes. Harvesting wheat was a time-consuming and labor-intensive process, but it played a crucial role in ensuring that people had enough food to eat throughout the year.


In conclusion, harvesting wheat was an essential part of ancient agriculture. While the process was labor-intensive and time-consuming, it ensured that farmers had enough food to feed their families and communities.

The use of sickles, sheaves, flails, and winnowing forks helped farmers to harvest their wheat effectively and efficiently. Today, modern farming techniques have made harvesting wheat much easier than it was in ancient times.