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From: John Bishop <jbishop@blkbrd.zko.dec.com>
Subject: (urth) Re: Feeding Nessus [Digest urth.v028.n016]
Date: Mon, 16 Aug 1999 10:05:29 

Mantis says:

  ..the agricultural technology really has to be =much=
  better than that [quasi-medieval] to support Nessus.

Three points:

1. Gyoll is a big river, which implies a big valley upstream,
   and allows river transport of bulk cargo like grain.  So
   a large urban population could be fed, even if local productivity
   is low.  There's no mention of significant food shortages
   that I can recall.   

2. The technology we see isn't quasi-medieval: it seems higher
   than that to me.  And if we allow merely modest sail-boats,
   of the stort Rome had in the year 0 (assume obligatory jokes
   about coins marked 54BC and pedantry about "no year 0", etc.
   all made here), then we have good precedents: Classic Rome
   had a million inhabitants, fed wheat from North Africa and
   Egypt.  This means shipping over the Mediterranean, a far 
   harder problem than shipping downstream on a big river.

   Similiarly, the Greeks ate wheat grown on the shores of the
   Black sea, and before them the Egyptians shipped grain up
   and down the river to various large cities like Luxor.

3. How big is Nessus anyway?  Much of it is ruined and largely
   abandoned, and the actual population might be quite small.
   I envisioned it as being a large, circular ruin, with small
   populations living along the river and nearby.  And that
   population doesn't extend the full length of the urban shoreline,
   as we are told that the abandoned downstream portion of the
   city is huge.  Indeed, we are told the population is declining,
   and has been so for some time.

One last lunar trivium: the Abell discussion of the "Harvest Moon"
thing is worth reading, though perhaps I can convey some of it here:
Around the fall equinox, the path of the Moon is at an angle to the
horizon.  The daily movement of the Moon moves it west on its path;
the angle means that from our point of view it moves only slightly
west and a lot north [a diagram would be nice here].  This means
that the Moon stays almost full for more than the usual 3 nights,
and that for about a week, a bright Moon rises just about as
the Sun sets, allowing workers in the fields to work longer days
that usual at harvest time, when such assistance is welcome.

Those of us with indoor jobs may not feel the force of such
illumination; I've seen photos of farmers using artificial light
to allow harvesting at night, but even now it's expensive enough
to be rare.

	-John Bishop

*More Wolfe info & archive of this list at http://www.urth.net/urth/

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