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A simple granary (early 19th century), Slovenia Zaprice One cell granary 03.JPG
A simple granary (early 19th century), Slovenia
Ancient Greek geometric art box in the shape of granaries, 850 BC. On display in the Ancient Agora Museum in Athens, housed in the Stoa of Attalos. Chest and Lid with Model Granaries.jpg
Ancient Greek geometric art box in the shape of granaries, 850 BC. On display in the Ancient Agora Museum in Athens, housed in the Stoa of Attalos.
Leuit, Sundanese traditional granary, in West Java, Indonesia. Leuit os 080815-2283 srna.jpg
Leuit, Sundanese traditional granary, in West Java, Indonesia.

A granary is a storehouse or room in a barn for threshed grain or animal feed. Ancient or primitive granaries are most often made of pottery. Granaries are often built above the ground to keep the stored food away from mice and other animals and from floods.


Early origins

From ancient times grain has been stored in bulk. [1] The oldest granaries yet found date back to 9500 BC [2] and are located in the Pre-Pottery Neolithic A settlements in the Jordan Valley. The first were located in places between other buildings. However beginning around 8500 BC, they were moved inside houses, and by 7500 BC storage occurred in special rooms. [2] The first granaries measured 3 x 3 m on the outside and had suspended floors that protected the grain from rodents and insects and provided air circulation. [2]

These granaries are followed by those in Mehrgarh in the Indus Valley from 6000 BC. The ancient Egyptians made a practice of preserving grain in years of plenty against years of scarcity. The climate of Egypt being very dry, grain could be stored in pits for a long time without discernible loss of quality.

Historically, a silo was a pit for storing grain. It is distinct from a granary, which is an above-ground structure.

East Asia

Granary model, Han dynasty Eastern Han Pottery Granary (9940244743).jpg
Granary model, Han dynasty
Han dynasty granary on Silk Road west of Dunhuang Han Dynasty Granary west of Dunhuang.jpg
Han dynasty granary on Silk Road west of Dunhuang
Meiji period granary, Setagaya, Tokyo Old Granary at Todoroki Setagaya Ward Tokyo Japan.jpg
Meiji period granary, Setagaya, Tokyo

Simple storage granaries raised up on four or more posts appeared in the Yangshao culture in China and after the onset of intensive agriculture in the Korean peninsula during the Mumun pottery period (c. 1000 B.C.) as well as in the Japanese archipelago during the Final Jōmon/Early Yayoi periods (c. 800 B.C.). In the archaeological vernacular of Northeast Asia, these features are lumped with those that may have also functioned as residences and together are called 'raised floor buildings'.

China built an elaborate system designed to minimize famine deaths. The system was destroyed in the Taiping Rebellion of the 1850s. [3] [4] [5]

Southeast Asia

Two rangkiang in a photo circa 1895 of rice granaries in the Minangkabau architectural style in Batipuh in the Padang Plateau, Sumatra COLLECTIE TROPENMUSEUM Rijstschuren in Minangkabause bouwstijl te Batipoe in de Padangse Bovenlanden Sumatra`s Westkust TMnr 60003599.jpg
Two rangkiang in a photo circa 1895 of rice granaries in the Minangkabau architectural style in Batipuh in the Padang Plateau, Sumatra

In vernacular architecture of Indonesian archipelago granaries are made of wood and bamboo materials and most of them are built raised up on four or more posts to avoid rodents and insects. Examples of Indonesian granary styles are the Sundanese leuit and Minang rangkiang .

Great Britain

A granary sitting on staddle stones, at the Somerset Rural Life Museum Staddle stones, Somerset Rural Life Museum.jpg
A granary sitting on staddle stones, at the Somerset Rural Life Museum

In the South Hams in southwest Great Britain, small granaries were built on mushroom-shaped stumps called staddle stones. They were built of timber frame construction and often had slate roofs. Larger ones were similar to linhays, but with the upper floor enclosed. Access to the first floor was usually via stone staircase on the outside wall. [6]

Towards the close of the 19th century, warehouses specially intended for holding grain began to multiply in Great Britain. There are climatic difficulties in the way of storing grain in Great Britain on a large scale, but these difficulties have been largely overcome. [1]


Modern grain farming operations often use manufactured steel granaries to store grain on-site until it can be trucked to major storage facilities in anticipation of shipping. The large mechanized facilities, particularly seen in Russia and North America are known as grain elevators.

Moisture control

Grain must be kept away from moisture for as long as possible to preserve it in good condition and prevent mold growth. Newly harvested grain brought into a granary tends to contain excess moisture, which encourages mold growth leading to fermentation and heating, both of which are undesirable and affect quality. Fermentation generally spoils grain and may cause chemical changes that create poisonous mycotoxins.

One traditional remedy is to spread the grain in thin layers on a floor, where it is turned to aerate it thoroughly. Once the grain is sufficiently dry it can be transferred to a granary for storage. Today, this can be done by means of a mechanical grain auger to move grain from one granary to another.

In modern silos, grain is typically force-aerated in situ or circulated through external grain drying equipment.

See also

Related Research Articles

Kiln Oven that generates high temperatures

A kiln is a thermally insulated chamber, a type of oven, that produces temperatures sufficient to complete some process, such as hardening, drying, or chemical changes. Kilns have been used for millennia to turn objects made from clay into pottery, tiles and bricks. Various industries use rotary kilns for pyroprocessing—to calcinate ores, to calcinate limestone to lime for cement, and to transform many other materials.

Hay Dried grass, legumes or other herbaceous plants used as animal fodder

Hay is grass, legumes, or other herbaceous plants that have been cut and dried to be stored for use as animal fodder, either for large grazing animals raised as livestock, such as cattle, horses, goats, and sheep, or for smaller domesticated animals such as rabbits and guinea pigs. Pigs can eat hay, but do not digest it as efficiently as herbivores do.

Barn Agricultural building used for storage and as a covered workplace

A barn is an agricultural building usually on farms and used for various purposes. In North America, a barn refers to structures that house livestock, including cattle and horses, as well as equipment and fodder, and often grain. As a result, the term barn is often qualified e.g. tobacco barn, dairy barn, cow house, sheep barn, potato barn. In the British Isles, the term barn is restricted mainly to storage structures for unthreshed cereals and fodder, the terms byre or shippon being applied to cow shelters, whereas horses are kept in buildings known as stables. In mainland Europe, however, barns were often part of integrated structures known as byre-dwellings. In addition, barns may be used for equipment storage, as a covered workplace, and for activities such as threshing.

Silage Fermented fodder preserved by acidification

Silage is a type of fodder made from green foliage crops which have been preserved by fermentation to the point of acidification. It can be fed to cattle, sheep and other such ruminants. The fermentation and storage process is called ensilage, ensiling or silaging. Silage is usually made from grass crops, including maize, sorghum or other cereals, using the entire green plant. Silage can be made from many field crops, and special terms may be used depending on type: oatlage for oats, haylage for alfalfa.

Grain elevator Grain storage building

A grain elevator is a facility designed to stockpile or store grain. In the grain trade, the term "grain elevator" also describes a tower containing a bucket elevator or a pneumatic conveyor, which scoops up grain from a lower level and deposits it in a silo or other storage facility.

Food storage Type of storage that allows food to be eaten after time

Food storage is a way of decreasing the variability of the food supply in the face of natural, inevitable variability. It allows food to be eaten for some time after harvest rather than solely immediately. It is both a traditional domestic skill and, in the form of food logistics, an important industrial and commercial activity. Food preservation, storage, and transport, including timely delivery to consumers, are important to food security, especially for the majority of people throughout the world who rely on others to produce their food.

Pre-Pottery Neolithic A Middle Eastern Neolithic culture about 12,000–10,800 years ago

Pre-Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA) denotes the first stage of the Pre-Pottery Neolithic, in early Levantine and Anatolian Neolithic culture, dating to c. 12,000 – c. 10,800 years ago, that is, 10,000–8,800 BCE. Archaeological remains are located in the Levantine and Upper Mesopotamian region of the Fertile Crescent.

Bulk material handling

Bulk material handling is an engineering field that is centered on the design of equipment used for the handling of dry materials. Bulk materials are those dry materials which are powdery, granular or lumpy in nature, and are stored in heaps. Examples of bulk materials are minerals, ores, coal, cereals, woodchips, sand, gravel, clay, cement, ash, salt, chemicals, grain, sugar, flour and stone in loose bulk form. It can also relate to the handling of mixed wastes. Bulk material handling is an essential part of all industries that process bulk ingredients, including: food, beverage, confectionery, pet food, animal feed, tobacco, chemical, agricultural, polymer, plastic, rubber, ceramic, electronics, metals, minerals, paint, paper, textiles and more.

Lime plaster

Lime plaster is a type of plaster composed of sand, water, and lime, usually non-hydraulic hydrated lime. Ancient lime plaster often contained horse hair for reinforcement and pozzolan additives to reduce the working time.

Silo Structure for storing crops

A silo is a structure for storing bulk materials. Silos are used in agriculture to store fermented feed known as silage, not to be confused with a grain bin, which is used to store grains. Silos are commonly used for bulk storage of grain, coal, cement, carbon black, woodchips, food products and sawdust. Three types of silos are in widespread use today: tower silos, bunker silos, and bag silos.

A buffer stock scheme is an attempt to use commodity storage for the purposes of stabilising prices in an entire economy or an individual (commodity) market. Specifically, commodities are bought when a surplus exists in the economy, stored, and are then sold from these stores when economic shortages in the economy occur.

Staddle stones

Staddle stones were originally used as supporting bases for granaries, hayricks, game larders, etc. The staddle stones lifted the granaries above the ground thereby protecting the stored grain from vermin and water seepage. In Middle English staddle or stadle is stathel, from Old English stathol, a foundation, support or trunk of a tree. They can be mainly found in Great Britain, Norway ("stabbur"), Galicia and Asturias.

<i>Onggi</i> Type of Korean earthenware

Onggi is Korean earthenware extensively used as tableware and storage containers in Korea. It includes both unglazed earthenware, fired near 600 to 700°C, and pottery with a dark brown glaze fired at over 1100 °C.

Malting Process of steeping, germinating and drying grain to convert it into malt

Malting is the process of steeping, germinating and drying grain to convert it into malt. The malt is mainly used for brewing or whisky making, but can also be used to make malt vinegar or malt extract. Various grains are used for malting, most often barley, sorghum, wheat or rye.

, , qūniè, jiǔqū, or jiǔmǔ is a type of East Asian dried fermentation starter grown on a solid medium and used in the production of traditional Chinese alcoholic beverages. The Chinese character 曲/麹 is romanised as in pinyin, chhu or chu in other transcription systems. The literal translation of jiǔqū is "liquor ferment", although "liquor mold" or "liquor starter" are adequate descriptions.

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Grain drying is process of drying grain to prevent spoilage during storage. The grain drying described in this article is that which uses fuel- or electric-powered processes supplementary to natural ones, including swathing/windrowing for drying by ambient air and sunshine.

<i>Huangjiu</i> Alcoholic beverage

Huangjiu, meaning yellow wine, is a Chinese alcoholic beverage, and is most popular in the Jiangnan area. Huangjiu is brewed by mixing boiled grains including rice, glutinous rice or millet with qū as starter culture, followed by saccharification and fermentation at around 13-18 °C for fortnights. Its alcohol content is typically 8%-20%.

Grain storage on a subsistence farm is primarily based on minimizing grain loss. In modern agricultural practices there are methods of managing under 1% grain loss, but small subsistence farms can see 20% - 100% of grain loss. This causes starvation and an unstable food supply. Grain loss can be caused by mold growth, bugs, birds, or any other contamination.

Kairi Maize Silos Historic site in Queensland, Australia

Kairi Maize Silos are heritage-listed silos at 22 Godfrey Road, Kairi, Tablelands Region, Queensland, Australia. They were designed and built in 1924 by Henry Simon Ltd. They were added to the Queensland Heritage Register on 8 August 2007.


  1. 1 2 Wikisource-logo.svg One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain : Zimmer, George Frederick (1911). "Granaries". In Chisholm, Hugh (ed.). Encyclopædia Britannica . Vol. 13 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 336.
  2. 1 2 3 Kuijt, I.; Finlayson, B. (June 2009). "Evidence for food storage and predomestication granaries 11,000 years ago in the Jordan Valley". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 106 (27): 10966–10970. Bibcode:2009PNAS..10610966K. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0812764106 . ISSN   0027-8424. PMC   2700141 . PMID   19549877.
  3. Pierre-Etienne Will and R. Bin Wong, Nourish the people: The state civilian granary system in China, 1650–1850 (University of Michigan Press, 2020).
  4. Kathryn Jean, Edgerton-Tarpley, "From" Nourish the People" to" Sacrifice for the Nation": Changing Responses to Disaster in Late Imperial and Modern China." Journal of Asian Studies (2014): 447-469. online
  5. Shiue, Carol H. "Local granaries and central government disaster relief: moral hazard and intergovernmental finance in eighteenth-and nineteenth-century China." Journal of Economic History (2004): 100-124. online
  6. "Barn Guide: Traditional Farm Buildings in the South Hams: Their Adaptation and Re-use" (PDF). Retrieved 2021-04-12. The Barn Guide by South Hams District Council