Tree cultivation. In the first millennium bc there was a remarkable expansion of fruit‐tree cultivation around the Mediterranean. The productivity of agriculture was increased because trees were often intercropped with cereals and legumes, increasing total yields per unit area. These developments laid the economic foundations for the prosperity of Greek and Roman civilization and made diets more diverse and more nutritious. The most important of the trees in question were the olive, vine (see wine), fig, apple, pear, plum, pistachio, walnut, chestnut, carob, date‐palm, peach, almond, pomegranate, sweet and sour cherry‐trees. The cultivation of many of these species of trees depended on the spread of the technique of grafting. The Roman agricultural writers tell us about arboriculture. Trees were also important for timber. It was needed for shipbuilding, houses, firewood and many other purposes. Theophrastus describes the uses of different types of timber in his Research on Plants. The demand for timber sometimes resulted in deforestation.
Subjects: Classical Studies — Science and Mathematics.