(probably = σκαπάνη
), a spade. The spade was comparatively
little used in ancient husbandry, the implements used besides the plough for
breaking up and cleaning the ground being mostly of the pick-axe or hoe
shape [see BIDENS, LIGO, MARRA,
SARCULUM]. The pala was
used, like our
spade, for digging,
it was of iron (Col. 10.45
a broad cutting edge curved at the end. Pliny (Plin. Nat. 18.46
) speaks of it as useful for breaking up rushy
), whereas he recommends the
for stony ground and for loosening
the soil before planting slips (17.123): and this was probably one of its
uses in the olive-yard. Cato (R. B.
10), in his list of
implements requisite for an olive-yard of 240 jugera, gives only 4 palae,
but 6 aratra
it was used too for digging a trench
), and in gardening (Colum. l.c.
). The woodcut below, taken from a funeral
Pala, falx, and bidens. (From an ancient relief.)
at Rome (Fabretti, Inscript. Ant.
p. 574), exhibits
a deceased countryman with his falx and bidens, and also with a pala,
modified by the addition of a strong cross-bar, by the use of which he was
enabled to drive it nearly twice as deep into the ground as he could have
done without it. In this form the instrument was [p. 2.312]
being employed in trenching
), or, when the ground was full
of roots to a considerable depth, in loosening them, turning them over, and
extirpating them, so as to prepare the soil for planting vines and other
trees. By means of this implement, which is still used in Italy and called
the ground was dug to the depth of
two spades or nearly two feet. It is clear, however, from Columella, 11.3,
10, that the cross-bar was placed higher when a deeper spit was required: he
speaks of digging three feet deep, but says that in other cases it will be
sufficient to dig “non alto
est minus quam duos pedes;” where the various reading bipedalio
is clearly a misconception from the
“duos pedes.” (Plin. Nat.
; Cat. Agr. 6.45
Varro, R. R.
1.37; Colum. R. R.
Cato (ib. 11) mentions wooden shovels (palas
) among the implements necessary to the husbandman. One
principal application of them was in winnowing. The winnowing--shovel, also
called in Latin ventilabrum
1.52), is still generally used in Greece, and the mode of
employing it is exhibited by Stuart in his Antiquities of
The corn which has been threshed lies in a heap upon the
floor, and the labourer throws it to a distance with the shovel, whilst the
wind, blowing strongly across the direction in which it is thrown, drives
the chaff and refuse to one side. So Isid. Or.
“pala quae ventilabrum vulgo dicitur, a ventilandis paleis
nominata” (the etymology need not be accepted); and Tertull.
3, “palam in manu portat ad purgandam
arcam suam.” According to Schol. ad
Aristoph. Birds 806
, this was called
as well as πτύον
The fruit of leguminous plants was purified and
adapted to be used for food in the same manner. (Hom. Il. 5.499
The term pala
was applied anciently, as it is in
modern Italian, to the blade or broad part of an oar. [REMUS
] In a ring the broad part,
which held the gem, was called by the name of pala.