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Headword: Ὄλυρα
Adler number: omicron,224
Translated headword: spelt, coarse grain
Vetting Status: high
Translation:
[Meaning] grain, a kind of seed.
Greek Original:
Ὄλυρα: ζειά, εἶδος σπέρματος.
Notes:
cf. the scholia to Homer, Iliad 5.196 and 8.564, where the headword (which can be variously accented) occurs.
Both the headword itself, ὄλυρα , and the first gloss, ζειά , mean coarse grain or coarse wheat. Spelt, Triticum spelta, is mentioned by (e.g.) Herodotus 2.36.2: "while others live on wheat and barley, Egyptians consider it the greatest shame to live on them; they prepare their bread from olyra, which some call zeia". However, Egyptians used mainly emmer, T. dioccocoides. Spelt and emmer (and also einkorn) are early types of wheat which have glumes and seedcovers that are difficult to release by threshing. "Naked" wheat, T. aestivum s.l., leaves a clear kernel after threshing. The early wheats had a long lifetime and were probably consumed as gruel. They can still be found they are disease-resistant and are undemanding, esp. spelt, as to the quality of the soil and other conditions.
Spelta itself is a word of Celtic origin, first occurring in the Diocletian's Price-Edict (301 CE).
References:
J.K. Harlan, "The Early History of Wheat: Early Traces to the Sack of Rome," in L.T. Evans and W.J Peacock, (eds.) Wheat Science - today and tomorrow (Cambridge U.P. 1980) and literature quoted there
Robert Sallares, The Ecology of the Ancient Greek World (London, Duckworth, 1991) 313-389, esp. 348-350
Keywords: agriculture; botany; daily life; definition; epic; food; historiography
Translated by: Carl Widstrand on 12 January 2000@18:41:01.
Vetted by:
David Whitehead (augmented notes, bibliography, keywords; cosmetics) on 5 February 2003@03:47:40.
David Whitehead (cosmetics; raised status) on 25 June 2013@04:03:18.

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