The Machines That Milled the Sugar-Canes: The Horizontal Double Roller Mills in the First Sugar Plantations of the Americas

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    Authors & editors

    Stevens-Acevedo, Anthony R [Author]

    Publisher The author
    Year of publication 2013

    Medium Digital

    Food (non-cereal) processes > Sugar

    Scope & contentConclusions:
    1 Whenever the Portuguese term ‘eixo’ or the Spanish term ‘exe’ appear related to a setting of cane-sugar estates or mills, it seems a firm inference to understand that these terms refer to the structures formed by the horizontal wooden rollers or cylinders adjacent to each other and mounted on some type of wooden frame that were used to squeeze the sugar canes to extract their juice.

    2 In the Canary islands the use of the horizontal double roller mills applied to sugar canes seems well documented on a date as early at least as 1503-1504, and indications would point the fact that this system could have been in use well before then, and maybe from the very first moment the cane-sugar production and technology were transferred or imported from the Madeira Islands.

    3 In La Española the horizontal double roller mills were used in sugar-cane milling at least by 1519 and possibly from the very first moment, earlier in the 1510s, when the industry was established as an economically viable and competitive enterprise for the times, La Española having clearly therefore, according to all the existing evidence, the historical primacy in the use of this system of cane-milling in the Americas.

    4 The use of the roller mill seems to have arrived to the sugar-making region of continental Spain in Andalucía (especially the coastal strip of the old Kingdom of Granada) at least by 1570, but more research is needed on the existing indications that the technology may have been introduced much earlier in the century, maybe around the same time it was introduced on the other side of the Atlantic in La Española.

    Divisions within this publication

    • 1: Foreword
    • 2: The prevailing interpretations in the existing scholarship on La Española’s sixteenth-century sugar mills
    • 3: New evidence and interpretation about the use of the horizontal double roller mill in Hispaniola (and, before then, in the Canary Islands)
    • 4: Conclusions
    • 5: Sources and works consulted
    • 6: Illustrations

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