191. Watering With the Foot

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Two interpretations are given of this passage, either of which can find illustration in Oriental customs, and in the fact that from the absence of rain in Egypt, and the great breadth of plain country unbroken by hills, it has ever been necessary to water the land by artificial means.
1. One ancient mode of raising water from the Nile, or from the canals which were cut through Egypt, was by means of a wheel which was worked by the feet. Dr. Robinson saw in Palestine several of these wheels which were used to draw water from wells. In describing one he says: “On the platform was fixed a small reel for the rope, which a man, seated on a level with the axis, wound up, by pulling the upper part of the reel toward him with his hands, while he at the same time pushed the lower part from him with the feet” (Bibl. Res. in Palestine, vol. 2, p. 22).
2. For crops which required to be frequently watered the fields were divided into square beds, surrounded by raised borders of earth, to keep in the water, which was introduced by channels or poured in from buckets. The water could easily be turned from one square to another by making an opening in the border, the soft soil readily yielding to the pressure of the foot. This mode is also practiced in India.