1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Weights and Measures

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WEIGHTS AND MEASURES. This subject may be most conveniently considered under three aspects—I. Scientific, II. Historical; and III. Commercial.

I. Scientific.

1. Units.—In the United Kingdom two systems of weights and measures are now recognized—the imperial and the Metric System. The fundamental units of these systems are—of length, the yard and metre; and of mass, the pound and kilogram.

The legal theory of the British system of weights and measures is—(a) the standard yard, with all lineal measures and their squares and cubes based upon that; (b) the standard pound of 7000 grains, with all weights based upon that, with the troy pound of 5760 grains for trade purposes; (c) the standard gallon (and multiples and fractions of it), declared to contain# 10 pounds of water at 62 F., being in volume 277·274 cubic inches, which contain each 252·724 grains of water in a vacuum at 62°, or 252·458 grains of water weighed with brass weights in air of 62° with the barometer at 30 inches}} Of the metric units international definitions have been stated as follows:—

(a) The unit of volume for determinations of a high degree of accuracy is the volume occupied by the mass of 1 kilogram of pure water at its maximum density and under the normal atmospheric pressure; this volume is called litre.

(b) In determinations of volume which do not admit of a high degree of accuracy the cubic decimetre can be taken as equivalent to the litre; and in these determinations expressions of volumes based on the cube of the unit of linear measure can be substituted for expressions based on the litre as defined above.

(c) The kilogram is the unit of mass; it is equal to the mass of the international prototype of the kilogram..[1]

(d) The term “weight” denotes a magnitude of the same nature as a force; the weight of a body is the product of the mass of the body by the acceleration of gravity; in particular, the normal weight of a body is the product of the mass of the body by the normal acceleration of gravity. The number adopted for the value of the normal acceleration of gravity is 980·965 cm/sec².

2. Standards.—The metre (mètre à traits) is represented by the distance marked by two fine lines on an iridio-platinum bar t = 0° C.) deposited with the Standards Department. This metre (m.) is the only unit of metric—extension by which all other metric measures of extension—whether linear, superficial or solid—are ascertained.

The kilogram (kg.) is represented by an iridio-platinum Standard weight, of cylindrical form, by which all other metric weights, and all measures having reference to metric weight, are ascertained in the United Kingdom.

From the above four units are derived all other heights and measures (W. and M.) of the two systems.

The gallon is the standard measure of capacity in the imperial system as well for liquids as for dry goods.

In the United Kingdom the metric standard of capacity is the litre, represented (Order in Council, 19th May 1890) by the capacity of a hollow cylindrical brass measure whose internal diameter is equal to one-half its height, and which at 0° C., when filled to the brim, contains one kg. of distilled water of the temperature of 4° C, under an atmospheric pressure equal to 760 millimetres at 0° C. at sea-level and latitude 45°; the weighing being made in air, but reduced by calculation to a vacuum. In such definition an attempt has been made to avoid former confusion of expression as to capacity, cubic measure, and volume; the litre being recognized as a measure of capacity holding a given weight of water.

For the equivalent of the litre in terms of the gallon, see below III. Commercial.

In the measurement of the cubic inch it has been found that[2] the specific mass of the cubic inch of distilled water freed from air, and weighed in air against brass weights (∆ = 8.13), at the temperature of 62° F., and under an atmospheric pressure equal to 30 in. (at 32° F.), is equal to 252.297 grains weight of water at its maximum density (4° C). Hence a cubic foot of water would weigh 62.281 lb avoir., and not 62.321 lb as at present legally taken.

For the specific mass of the cubic decimetre of water at 4° C., under an atmospheric pressure equal to 760 mm., Guillaume and Chappuis of the Comité International des Poids et Mesures at Paris (C.I.P.M.) have obtained 0.9999707 kg.,[3] which has been accepted by the committee.

The two standards, the cubic inch and the cubic decimetre, may not be strictly comparable owing to a difference in the normal temperature (Centigrade and Fahrenheit scales) of the two units of extension, the metre and the yard.

For the weight of the cubic decimetre of water, as deduced from the experiments made in London in 1896 as to the weight of the cubic inch of water. D. Mendeléeff {Proc. Roy. Soc., 1895) has obtained the following results, which have been adopted in legislative enactments in the United Kingdom:—

Temperature on the Hydrogen Thermometer Scale.
Weight of Ware in vacuo.
Of a Cube Decimetre in Grammes. Of a Cubic Inch in Grains. of a Cubic Inch in Russian Dolis.
C. F.
32°.0 999.716 252.821 368.686
4 39.2 999.847 252.854 368.734
15 59.0 998.979 252.635 368.414
162/3 62.0 998.715 252.568 368.316
20 68.0 998.082 252.407 368.083

In this no account is taken of the compressibility of water—that is to say it is supposed that water is under a pressure of one atmosphere. The weight of a cubic decimetre of water reaches 1000 grammes under a pressure of four atmospheres, but in vacuo, at all temperatures, the weight of water is less than a kilogram.

Britannica Weights and Measures, Yard.jpg

Fig. 1.—Present Imperial Standard Yard, 1844.

Totals length of bronze bar, 38 m.; distance a a', 36 m., or the imperial yard a a', wells sunk to the mid depth of the bar, at the bottom of each of which is inserted a gold stud, having the defining line of the yard engraved on it.

Britannica Weights and Measures, Pound.jpg
Fig. 2.—Imperial Standard Pound, 1844.
Platinum pound avoirdupois, of cylindrical form, with groove at a for lifting the weight.

3. National Standards.—National standards of length are not legally now referred to natural standards to physical constants[4] but it has shown by A.A. Michelson that a standard of length might be restored, if necessary, by reference to the measurement of wave-lengths of light. Preliminary experiments have given results correct to ≐ 0.5 microns, and it appears probable that by further experiments, results corrected to ≐ 1 ομ may be obtained. That is to say, the metre might be redetermined or restored as its length within one ten millionth part, by reference to, e.g. 1553163.5 wave lengths of the red ray of the spectrum of cadmium, in air at 15° C. and 760 mm.

In all countries the national standards of weights and measures are in the custody of the state, or of some authority administering the government of the country. The standards of the British Empire, so far as the relate to the imperial and metric systems, are in the custody of the Board of Trade. Scientific research is not, of course, bound by official standards.

For the care of these national standards the Standards Department was developed, under the direction of a Royal commission[5] (of which the late Henry Williams Chisholm was a leading member) to conduct all comparisons and other operations with reference to weights and measures in aid of scientific research or otherwise which it may be of duty of the state to undertake. Similar standardizing offices are established in other countries (see Standards). Verified "Parliamentary Copies" of the imperial standard are placed at the Royal Mint, with the Royal Society, at the Royal Observatory, and in the Westminster Palace.

The forms of the four primary standards representing the four units of extension and mass are shown in figs. 1 to 4.

A secondary standard measure for dry goods is the bushel of 1824, containing 8 imperial gallons, represented by a hollow bronze cylinder having a plane base, its internal diameter being double its depth.

The imperial standard measure of capacity is a hollow cylinder (fig. 5) made of brass, with a plane base, of equal height and diameter; which when filled to the brim, as determined by a plane glass disk, contains 10 ℔ weight of water at t=62° F.B.=30 in., weighed in air against brass weights.

Britannica Weights and Measures, Metre.jpg
Fig. 3.—National Standard Metre, 1897.

Iridio-platinum bar of Tresca section as shown at A. The two microscopic lines are engraved on the measuring axis of the bar at b, one near to each end of the bar. The standard metre (mètre à-traits) was supplemented by the delivery to Great Britain, in 1898, of an end standard metre (metre à bouts) also made of iridio-platinum, and also verified by the C.I.P.M. A comparison of the yard with the metre was made by the C.I.P.M. in 1896, and of the pound and and kilogram in 1883–1885 (see III. Commercial).

4. Atmospheric Pressure, and Materials.—In the verification of a precise standard of length there may be taken into account the influence of the variation of atmospheric pressure. Taking the range of the barometer in Great Britain from 28 to 31 in., giving a difference of 3 in. (76 millimetres), which denotes a variation of 103 grammes per square centimetre in the pressure of the atmosphere, the change caused thereby in the length of a standard of linear measurement would appear to be as follows:—

For the yard measure of the form shown in fig. 1 a difference of length equal to 0.000002 in. is caused by the variation of atmospheric pressure from 28 to 31 in. For the metre of the form shown in fig. 3 the difference in length for a variation of 76 mm. in the barometer would be 0.000048 mm. on the metre.

With reference to the materials of which standards of length are made, it appears that the Matthey alloy iridio-platinum (90% platinum, 10% iridium) is probably of all substances the least affected by time or circumstance, and of this costly alloy, therefore, a new copy of the imperial yard has been made. There appears, however, to be some objection to the use of iridio-platinum for weights, as, owing to its great density (∆=21.57), the slightest abrasion will make an appreciable difference in a weight, sometimes, therefore, quartz or rock-crystal is used; but to this also there is some objection, as owing to its low density (∆=2.65) there is a large exposed surface of the mass. For small standard weights platinum (∆=21.45) and aluminium (∆=2.67) are used, and also an alloy of palladium (60%) silver (40%) (∆=11.00).

For ordinary standards of length Guillaume's alloy (invar) of nickel (35.7%) and steel (64.3%) is used, as it is a metal that can be highly polished, and is capable of receiving fine graduations. Its coefficient of linear expansion is only 0.0000008 for 1° C.[6]

5. Electrical Standards.—Authoritative standards and instruments for the measurement of electricity, based on the fundamental units of the metric system, have been placed in the Electrical Laboratory of the Board of Trade.[7] These include:

Current Measuring Instruments.
The standard ampere, and sub-standards from 1 to 2500 amperes.
Potential measuring instruments.
The standard volt, and sub-standards for the measurement of pressure from 2.5 to 3000 volts.
Resistance measuring instruments.
The standard ohm, sub-standards up to 100,000 ohms, and below 1 ohm to 1/1000 ohm.

Britannica Weights and Measures, Kilogram.jpg
Fig. 4.—National Standard Kilogram, 1897.

6. Temperature.—In the measurement of temperature the Fahrenheit scale is still followed for imperial standards, and the Centigrade scale for metric standards. At the time of the construction of the imperial standards in 1844, Sheepshanks's Fahrenheit thermometers were used; but it is difficult to say now what the true temperature then, of 62° F., may have been as compared with 62° F., or 16.667° C., of the present normal hydrogen scale. For metro logical purposes the C.I.P.M. have adopted as a normal thermometric scale the Centigrade scale of the hydrogen thermometer, having for fixed points the temperature of pure melting ice (0°) and that of the vapour of boiling distilled water (100°), under a normal atmospheric pressure; hydrogen being taken under an initial manometric pressure of 1 metre, that is to say, at 1 1000/760=1.3158 times the normal atmospheric pressure. This latter is represented by the weight of a column of mercury 760 mm. in height; the specific gravity of mercury being now taken as 13.5950, after Volkmann and Marek, and at the normal intensity followed under this pressure. The value of this intensity is equal to that of the force of gravity at the Bureau International, Paris (at the level of the Bureau), divided by 1.000332; a co-efficient which allows for theoretical reduction to the latitude 45° and to the level of the sea. The length of the metre is independent of the thermometer so far that it has its length at a definite physical point, the temperature of melting ice (0° C), but there is the practical difficulty that for ordinary purposes measurements cannot be always carried out at 0° C.

The International Geodetic Committee have adopted the metre as their unit of measurement. In geodetic measurements the dimensions of the triangles vary with the temperature of the earth, but these variations in the same region of the earth are smaller than the variations of the temperature of the air, less than 10° C. Adopting as a co-efficient of dilatation of the earth's crust 0.000002, the variations of the distances are smaller than the errors of measurement (see Geodesy).

Britannica Weights and Measures, Gallon.jpg
Fig. 5.—Present Imperial Standard Gallon, 1824.

7. Standardizing Institutions.—Besides the State departments dealing with weights and measures, there are other standardizing institutions of recent date. In Germany, e.g. there is at Charlottenburg (Berlin) a technical institute (Physikalisch - technische-Reichsanstalt) established under Dr. W. Förster in 1887, which undertakes researches with reference to physics and mechanics, particularly as applied to technical industries.[8] In England a National Physical Laboratory (N.P.L.) has been established, based on the German institute, and has its principal laboratory at Bushey House, near Hampton, Middlesex. Here is carried out the work of standardizing measuring instruments of various sorts in use by manufacturers, the determination of physical constants and the testing of materials. The work of the Kew Observatory, at the Old Deer Park, Richmond, has also been placed under the direction of the N.P .L. (see III Commercial).[9] The C.I.P.M. at Paris, the first metro logical institution, also undertakes verifications for purely scientific purposes. A descriptive list of the verifying instruments of the Standards Department, London, has been published.[10] In the measurement of woollen and other textile fabrics, as to quality, strength, number of threads, &c., there exists at Bradford a voluntary standardizing institution known as the Conditioning House (Bradford Corporation Act 1887), the work of which has been extended to a chemical analysis of fabrics.

8. Ancient Standards of England and Scotland.—A “troy pound” and a new standard yard, as well as secondary standards, were constructed by direction of parliament in 1758–1760, and were deposited with the Clerk of the House of Commons. When the Houses of Parliament were burned down in 1834, the pound was lost and the yard was injured. It may here be mentioned that the expression “imperial” first occurs in the Weights and Measures Act of 1824. 'The injured standard was then lost sight of, but it was in 1891 brought to light by the Clerk of the Journals, and has now been placed in the lobby of the residence of the Clerk of the House, together with a standard “stone” of 14 ℔.[11]

In the measurement of liquids the old “wine gallon” (231 cub. in.) was in use in England until 1824, when the present imperial gallon (fig. 5) was legalized; and the wine gallon of 1707 is still referred to as a standard in the United States. Together with the more ancient standard of Henry VTI. and of Queen Elizabeth, this standard is deposited in the Jewel Tower at Westminster. They are probably of the Norman period, and were kept in the Pyx Chapel at Westminster, now in the custody of the Commissioners of Works. A sketch of these measures is given in fig. 6.[12]

Britannica Weights and Measures, Weights.jpg
Fig. 6.—A, Winchester Bushel of Henry VII.; B, Standard Hundred-weight (112 ℔) of Elizabeth; C, Ale Gallon of Henry VII.; D, the old Wine Gallon.

Besides these ancient standards of England (1495, 1588, 1601) there are at the council chambers of Edinburgh and Linhthgow some of the interesting standards of Scotland, as the Stirling jug or Scots pint, 161S; the choppin or half-pint, 1555 (fig. 7); the Lanark troy and tron weights of the same periods (fig. 8).[13]

English Weights and Measures Abolished.—The yard and handful, or 40 in. ell, abolished in 1439. The yard and inch, or 37 in. ell (cloth measure), abolished after 1553; known later as the Scotch ell = 37.06. Cloth ell of 45 in., used till 1600. The yard of Henry VII, = 35.963 in. Saxon moneyers pound, or Tower pound, 5400 grains, abolished in 1527. Mark, 2/3 pound = 3600 grains. Troy pound in use in 1415. established as monetary pound 1527. Troy weight was abolished, from the 1st of January 1879. by the Weights and Measures Act 1878. with the exception only of the Troy ounce, its decimal parts and multiples, legalized in 1853, 16 Vict. c. 29, to be used for the sale of gold and silver articles, platinum and precious stones. Merchant's pound, in 1270 established for all except gold, silver and medicines = 6750 grains, generally superseded by avoirdupois in 1303. Merchant's pound of 7200 grains, from France and Germany, also superseded. (“Avoirdepois” occurs in 1336, and has been thence continued: the Elizabethan standard was probably 7002 grains.) Ale gallon of 1601 = 282 cub. in., and wine gallon of 1707 = 231 cub. in., both abolished in 1824. Winchester corn bushel of 8 × 268.8 cub. in. and gallon of 2741/4 are the oldest examples known (Henry VII.), gradually modified until fixed in 1826 at 277.274, or 10 pounds of water.

Britannica Weights and Measures, Scots Choppin.jpg   Britannica Weights and Measures, Lanark Stone.jpg
Fig. 7.—The Scots Choppin or Half-Pint, 1555. Fig. 8.—Lanark Stone Troy Weight, 1618.

French Weights and Measures Abolished.—Often needed in reading older works.

ligre,  12=pounce,   12=pied,   6=toise,   2000=Lieue de poste. 
.08883 in. 1.0658 12.7892 76.735 2.42219 miles.
grain, 72=gros, 8=once, 8=marc, 2=poids de marc.
.8197 gr. 59.021 472.17 3777.33 1.0792 ℔.

Rhineland foot, much used in Germany, = 12.357 in. = the foot of the Scotch or English cloth ell of 37.06 in., or 3 × 12.353.  (H. J. C.) 

Ancient Historical

II. Ancient Historical

Though no line can be drawn between ancient and modern metrology, yet, owing to neglect, and partly to the scarcity of materials, there is a gap of more than a thousand years over which the connexion of units[14] of measure is mostly guess-work. Hence, except in a few cases, we shall not here consider any units of the middle ages. A constant difficulty in studying works on metrology is the need of distinguishing the absolute facts of the case from the web of theory into which each writer has woven them—often the names used, and sometimes the very existence of the units in question, being entirely an assumption oi the writer. Again, each writer has his own leaning: A. Böckh, to the study of water-volumes and weights, even deriving linear measures therefrom, V. Queipo; to the connexion with Arabic and Spanish measures; J. Brandis, to the basis of Assyrian standards; Mommsen, to coin weights; and P. Bortolotti to Egyptian units; but F. Hultsch is more general, and appears to give a more equal representation of all sides than do other authors. In this article the tendency will be to trust far more to actual measures and weights than to the statements of ancient writers; and this position seems to be justified by the great increase in materials, and their more accurate means of study. The usual arrangement by countries has been mainly abandoned in favour of following out each unit as a whole, without recurring to it separately for every locality.

The materials for study are of three kinds. (1) Literary, both in direct statements in works on measures (e.g. Elias of Nisibis), medicine (Galen) and cosmetics (Cleopatra), in ready-reckoner's (Didymus), clerk's (kātīb's) guides, and like handbooks, and in indirect explanations of the equivalents of measures mentioned by authors (e.g. Josephus). But all such sources are liable to the most confounding errors, and some passages relied on have in any case to submit to conjectural emendation. These authors are of great value for connecting the monumental information, but must yield more and more to the increasing evidence of actual weights and measures. Besides this, all their evidence is but approximate, often only stating quantities to a half or quarter of the amount, and seldom nearer than 5 or 10%; hence they are entirely worthless for all the closer questions of the approximation or original identity of standards in different countries; and it is just in this line that the imagination of writers has led them into the greatest speculations, unchecked by accurate evidence of the original standards. (2) Weights and measures actually remaining. These are the prime sources, and as they increase and are more fully studied, so the subject will be cleared and obtain a fixed basis. A difficulty has been in the paucity of examples, more due to the neglect of collectors than the rarity of specimens. The number of published weights did not exceed 600 of all standards in 1880; but the collections from Naucratis (28),[15] Defcnneh (29) and Memphis (44) have supplied over six times this quantity, and of an earlier age than most other examples, while existing collections have been more thoroughly examined. It is above all desirable to make allowances for the changes which weights have undergone; and, as this has only been done for the above Egyptian collections and that of the British Museum, conclusions as to the accurate values of different standards will here be drawn from these rather than continental sources. (3) Objects which have been made by measure or weight, and from which the unit of construction can be deduced. Buildings will generally yield up their builder's foot or cubit when examined (Inductive Metrology, p. 9). Vases may also be found bearing such relations to one another as to show their unit of volume. And coins have long been recognized as one of the great sources of metrology—valuable for their wide and detailed range of information, though most unsatisfactory on account of the constant temptation to diminish their weight, a weakness which seldom allows us to reckon them as of the full standard. Another defect in the evidence of coins is that, when one variety of the unit of weight was once fixed on for the coinage, there was (barring the depreciation) no departure from it, because of the need of a fixed value, and hence coins do not show the range and character of the real variations of units as do buildings, or vases, or the actual commercial weights.

Principle of Stury.—I. Limits of Variation in Different Copies, Places and Times.—Unfortunately, so very little is known of the ages of weights and measures that this datum—most essential in considering their history—has been scarcely considered. In measure, Egyptians of Dynasty IV. at Gizeh on an average varied 1 in 350 between different buildings (27). Buildings at Persepolis, all of nearly the same age, vary in unit 1 in 450 (25). Including a greater range of time and place, the Roman foot in Italy varied during two or three centuries on an average 1/400 from the mean. Covering a longer time, we find an average variation of 1/200 in the Attic foot (25), 1/150 in the English foot (25), 1/170 in the English itinerary foot (25). Se we may say that an average variation of 1/400 by toleration, extending to double that by change of place and time is usual in ancient measures. In weights of the same place and age there is a far wider range; at Defenneh (29), within a century probably, the average variation of different units is 1/36, 1/60, and 1/67, the range being just the same as in all times and places taken together. Even in a set of weights all found together, the average variation is only reduced to 1/60, in place of 1/36 (29). Taking a wider range of place and time, the Roman libra has an average variation of 5V in the examples of better period (43), and in those of Byzantine age 1/36 (44). Altogether, we see that weights have descended from original varieties with so little inter comparison that no rectification of their values has been made, and hence there is as much variety in any one place and time as in all together. Average variation may be said to range from 1/40 to 1/70 in different units, doubtless greatly due to defective balances.

2. Rate of Variation.—Though large differences may exist, the rate of general variation is but slow—excluding, of course, all monetary standards.

In Egypt the cubit lengthened 1/170 in some thousands of years (25, 44) The Italian mile has lengthened 1/100 since Roman times (2); the English mile lengthened about 1/300 in four centuries (31). The English foot has not appreciably varied in several centuries (25). Of weights there are scarce any dated, excepting coins, which nearly all decrease; the Attic tetradrachm, however, increased 1/50 in three centuries (28), owing probably to its being below the average trade weight to begin with. Roughly dividing the Roman weights, there appears a decrease of 1/40 from imperial to Byzantine times (43).

3. Tendency of Variation.—This is, in the above cases of lengths, to an increase in course of time. The Roman foot is also probably 1/300 larger than the earlier form of it, and the later form in Britain and Africa perhaps another 1/300 larger (25). Probably measures tend to increase and weights to decrease in transmission from time to time or place to place.

4. Details of Variation.—Having noticed variation in the gross, we must next observe its details. The only way of examining these is by drawing curves (28, 29), representing the frequency of occurrence of all the variations of a unit; for instance, in the Egyptian unit—the kat—counting in a large number how many occur between 140 and 141 grains, 141 and 142, and so on; such numbers represented by curves show at once where any particular varieties of the unit he (see Naukratis, i. 83). This method is only applicable where there is a large number of examples; but there is no other way of studying the details. The results from such a study—of the Egyptian kat, for example—show that there are several distinct families or types of a unit, which originated in early times, have been perpetuated by copying, and reappear alike in each locality (see Tanis, ii. pi. 1 .) . Hence we see that if one unit is derived from another it may be possible, by the similarity or difference of the forms of the curves, to discern whether it was derived by general consent and recognition from a standard in the same condition of distribution as that in which we know it, or whether it was derived from it in earlier times before it became so varied, or by some one action forming it from an individual example of the other standard without any variation being transmitted. As our knowledge of the age and locality of weights increases these criteria in curves will prove of greater value; but even now no consideration of the connexion of different units should be made without a graphic representation to compare their relative extent and nature of variation.

5. Transfer of Units.—The transfer of units from one people to another takes place almost always by trade. Hence the value of such evidence in pointing out the ancient course of trade and commercial connexions (17). The great spread of the Phoenician weight on the Mediterranean, of the Persian in Asia Minor and of the Assyrian in Egypt are evident cases; and that the decimal weights of the laws of Manu (43) are decidedly not Assyrian or Persian, but on exactly the Phoenician standard, is a curious evidence of trade by water and not overland. If, as seems probable, units of length may be traced in prehistoric remains, they are of great value; at Stonehenge, for instance, the earlier parts are laid out by the Phoenician foot, and the later by the Pelasgo-Roman foot (26). The earlier foot is continually to be traced in other megalithic remains, whereas the later very seldom occurs (25). This bears strongly on the Phoenician origin of our prehistoric civilization. Again, the Belgic foot of the Tungri is the basis of the present English land measures, which we thus see are neither Roman nor British in origin, but Belgic. Generally a unit is transferred from a higher to a less civilized people; but the near resemblance of measures in different countries should always be corroborated by historical considerations of a probable connexion by commerce or origin (Head, Historia Numorum, xxxvii.). It should be borne in mind that in early times the larger values, such as minae, would be transmitted by commerce, while after the introduction of coinage the lesser values of shekels and drachmae would be the units; and this needs notice, because usually a borrowed unit was multiplied or divided according to the ideas of the borrowers, and strange modifications thus arose.

6. Connexions of Lengths.—Volumes and Weights. — This is the most difficult branch of metrology, owing to the variety of connexions which can be suggested, to the vague information we have, especially on volumes, and to the liability of writers to rationalize connexions which were never intended. To illustrate how easy it is to go astray in this line, observe the continual reference in modern handbooks to the cubic foot as 1000 oz. of water; also the cubic inch is very nearly 230 grains, while the gallon has actually been fixed at 10 lb of water; the first two are certainly mere coincidences, as may very probably be the last also, and yet they offer quite as tempting a base for theorizing as any connexions in ancient metro logy. No such theories can be counted as more than coincidences which have been adopted, unless we find a very exact conne.ion, or some positive statement of origination. The idea of connecting volume and weight has received an immense impetus through the metric system, but it is not very prominent in ancient times. The Egyptians report the weight of a measure of various articles, amongst others water (6), but lay no special stress on it; and the fact that there is no measure of water equal to a direct decimal multiple of the weight-unit, except very high in the scale, does not seem as if the volume was directly based upon weight. Again, there are many theories of the equivalence of different cubic cubits of water with various multiples of talents (2, 3, 18, 24, 33'); but connexion by lesser units would be far more probable, as the primary use of weights is not to weigh large cubical vessels of liquid, but rather small portions of precious metals. The Roman amphora being equal to the cubic foot, and containing 80 librae of water, is one of the strongest cases of such relations, being often mentioned by ancient writers. Yet it appears to be only an approximate relation, and therefore probably accidental, as the volume by the examples is too large to agree to the cube of the length or to the weight, differing 1/20 or sometimes even 1/12[16]

Another idea which has haunted the older meteorologists, but is still less likely, is the connexion of various measures with degrees on the earth's surface. The lameness of the Greeks in angular measurement would alone show that they could not derive itinerary measures from long and accurately determined distances on the earth.

7. Connexions with Coinage.—From the 7th century B.C . onward, the relations of units of weight have been complicated by the need of the interrelations of gold, silver and copper coinage; and various standards have been derived theoretically from others through the weight of one metal equal in value to a unit of another. That this mode of originating standards was greatly promoted, if not started, by the use of coinage we may see by the rarity of the Persian silver weight (derived from the Assyrian standard), soon after the introduction of coinage, as shown in the weights of Defenneh (29). The relative value of gold and silver (17, 21) in Asia is agreed generally to have been 131/3 to 1 in the early ages of coinage; at Athens in 434 B.C. it was 14:1; in Macedon, 350 B.C., 121/2 :1; in Sicily, 400 B.C ., 15:1, and 300 B.C., 12:1; in Italy in 1st century, it was 12:1, in the later empire 13-9:1, and under Justinian 144:1. Silver stood to copper in Egypt as 80:1 (Brugsch), or 120:1 (Revillout); in early Italy and Sicily as 250:1 (Mommsen), or 120:1 (Soutzo), under the empire 120:1, and under Justinian 100:1. The distinction of the use of standards for trade in general, or for silver or gold in particular, should be noted. The early observance of the relative values may be inferred from Num. vii. 13, 14, where silver offerings are 13 and 7 times the weight of the gold, or of equal value and one-half value.

8. Legal Regulations of Measures.—Most states have preserved official standards, usually in temples under priestly custody. The Hebrew "shekel of the sanctuary" is familiar; the standard volume of the apet was secured in the dromus of Anubis at Memphis (35); in Athens, besides the standard weight, twelve copies for public comparison were kept in the city; also standard volume measures in several places (2); at Pompeii the block with standard volumes cut in it was found in the portico of the forum (33); other such standards are known in Greek cities (Gythium, Panidum and Trajanopolis) (11, 33); at Rome the standards were kept in the Capitol, and weights also in the temple of Hercules (2); the standard cubit of the Nilometer was before Constantine in the Serapaeum, but was removed by him to the church (2). In England the Saxon standards were kept at Winchester before A.D. 950 and copies were legally compared and stamped; the Normans removed them to Westminster to the custody of the king's chamberlains at the exchequer; and they were preserved in the crypt of Edward the Confessor, while remaining royal property (9). The oldest English standards remaining are those of Henry VII. Many weights have been found in the temenos of Demeter at Cnidus, the temple of Artemis at Ephesus, and in a temple of Aphrodite at Byblus (44); and the making or sale of weights may have been a business of the custodians of the temple standards.

9. Names of Units.—It is needful to observe that most names of measures are generic and not specific, and cover a great variety of units. Thus foot, digit, palm, cubit, stadium, mile, talent, mina, stater, drachm, obol, pound, ounce, grain, metretes, medimnus, roodius, hin and many others mean nothing exact unless quailfied by the name of their country or city. Also, it should be noted that some ethnic qualifications have been applied to different systems, and such names as Babylonian and Euboic are ambiguous; the normal value of a standard will therefore be used here rather than its name, in order to avoid confusion, unless specific names exist, such as kat and uten. All quantities stated in this article without distinguishing names are in British units of inch, cubic inch or grain.

Standards of Length.—Most ancient measures have been derived from one of two great systems, that of the cubit of 20-63 in., or the digit of .729 in.; and both these systems are found in the earliest remains.

20.63 in.—First known in Dynasty IV. in Egypt, most accurately 20.620 in the Great Pyramid, varying 20.51 to 20.71 in Dyn. IV. to VI. (27). Divided decimally in 100ths; but usually marked in Egypt into 7 palms of 28 digits, approximately; a mere juxtaposition (for convenience) of two incommensurate systems (25, 27). The average of several cubit rods remaining is 20.65, age in general about 1000 B.C. (33). At Philae, &c., in Roman times 20.76 on the Nilometers (44). This unit is also recorded by cubit lengths scratched on a tomb at Beni Hasan (44), and by dimensions of the tomb of Raraessu IV. and of Edfu temple (5) in papyri. From this cubit, mahi, was formed the xylon of 3 cubits, the usual length of a walking-staff; fathom, nent, of 4 cubits, and the khet of 40 cubits (18); also the schoenus of 12,000 cubits, actually found marked on the Meraphis-Faium road (44).

Babylonia had this unit nearly as early as Egypt. The divided plotting scales lying on the drawing boards of the statues of Gudea (Nature, xxviii. 341) are of 1/2 20.89, or a span of 10.44, which is divided in 16 digits of .653 a fraction of the cubit also found in Egypt. Buildings in Assyria and Babylonia show 20.5 to 20.6. The Babylonian system was sexagesimal, thus (18)—

uban, 5 = qat, 6=ammat, 6=qanu, 60=sos, 30=parasang, 2 = kaspu.
.69 inch 3.44 20.6 124 7430 223,000 446,000

Asia Minor had this unit in early times—in the temples of Ephesus 20.55, Samos 20.62; Hultsch also claims Priene 20.90, and the stadia of Aphrodisias 20.67 and Laodicea 20.94. Ten buildings in all give 20.63 mean (18, 25); but in Armenia it arose to 20.76 in late Roman times, like the late rise in Egypt (25). It was specially divided into 1/5th, the foot of 3/5ths being as important as the cubit.

12.45 in
This was especially the Greek derivative of the 20.63 cubit. It originated in Babylonia as the foot of that system (24), in accordance with the sexary system applied to the early decimal division of the cubit. In Greece it is the most usual unit, occurring in the Propylaea at Athens 12.44, temple at Aegina 12.40, Miletus 12.51, the Olympic course 12.62, &c. (18); thirteen buildings giving an average of 12.45, mean variation .06 (25), =3/5 of 20.75, m. var. .10. The digit = 1/4 palaeste, = 1/4 foot of 12.4; then the system is—

 foot,  (11/2=cubit, 4 = orguia ... ... 100= stadion.
10 ... =acaena, 10=plethron, 6=
12.4 in. 18.7  74.4 124.5  1245 7470 

In Etruria it probably appears in tombs as 12.45 (25); perhaps in Roman Britain; and in medieval England as 12.47 (25).

13.8 in
This foot is scarcely known monumentally. On three Egyptian cubits there is a prominent mark at the 19th digit or 14 in., which shows the existence of such a measure ('33). It became prominent when adopted by Philetaerus about 280 B.C. as the standard of Pergamum (42), and probably it had been shortly before adopted by the Ptolemies for Egypt. From that time it is one of the principal units in the literature (Didymus, &c.), and is said to occur in the temple of Augustus at Pergamum as 13.8 (18). Fixed by the Romans at 16 digits (131/3 = Roman foot), or its cubit at 14/5 Roman feet, it was legally =13.94 at 123 B.C. (42); and 71/2 Philetaerean stadia were = Roman mile (18). The multiples of the 20.63 cubit are in late times generally reckoned in these feet of 2/3 cubit. The name “Babylonian foot” used by Böckh (2) is only a theory of his, from which to derive volumes and weights; and no evidence for this name, or connexion with Babylon, is to be found. Much has been written (2, 3, 33) on supposed cubits of about 17-18 in. derived from 20.63—mainly in endeavouring to get a basis for the Greek and Roman feet; but these are really connected with the digit system, and the monumental or literary evidence for such a division of 20.63 will not bear examination.

17.30 in
There is, however, fair evidence for units of 17.30 and 1.730 or 1/12 of 20.76 in Persian buildings (25); and the same is found in Asia Minor as 17.25 or 5/6 of 20.70. On the Egyptian cubits a small cubit is marked as about 17 in., which may well be this unit, as 5/6 of 20.6 is 17.2; and, as these marks are placed before the 23rd digit or 17.0, they cannot refer to 6 palms, or 17.7, which is the 24th digit, though they are usually attributed to that (33).

We now turn to the second great family based on the digit. This has been so usually confounded with the 20.63 family, owing to the juxtaposition of 28 digits with that cubit in Egypt, that it should be observed how the difficulty of their incommensurability has been felt. For instance, Lepsius (3) supposed two primitive cubits of 13.2 and 20.63, to account for 28 digits being only 20-4 when free from the cubit of 20.63—the first 24 digits being in some cases made shorter on the cubits to agree with the true digit standard, while the remaining 4 are lengthened to fill up to 20.6. In the .727 in Dynasties IV. and V. in Egypt the digit is found in tomb sculptures as -727 (27); while from a dozen examples in the later remains we find the mean .728 (25). A length of 10 digits is marked on all the inscribed Egyptian cubits as the “lesser span” (33). In Assyria the same digit appears as .730, particularly at Nimrud (25); and in Persia buildings show the 10-digit length of 7.34 (25). In Syria it was about .728, but variable; in eastern Asia Minor more like the Persian, being .732 (25). In these cases the digit itself, or decimal multiples, seem to have been used.

The pre-Greek examples of this cubit in Egypt, mentioned by Böckh (2), give 18.23 as a mean, which is 25 digits of .729, and has no relation to the 20-63 cubit. This cubit, or one nearly equal, was used in Judaea in the times of the kings, as the Siloam inscription names a distance of 1758 ft. as roundly 1200 cubits, showing a cubit of about 17-6 in. This is also evidently the Olympic cubit; and, in pursuance of the decimal multiple of the digit found in Egypt and Persia, the cubit of 25 digits was 1/4 of the orguia of 100 digits, the series being—

old digit, { 25=cubit 4= } orguia, 10=amma, 10=stadion.
.729 inch 18.2 72.9 729 7296.

Then, taking 2/3 of the cubit, or 1/6 of the orguia, as a foot, the Creeks arrived at their foot of 12.14; this, though very well known in literature, is but rarely found, and then generally in the form of the cubit, in monumental measures. The Parthenon step, celebrated as 100 ft. wide, and apparently 225 ft. long, gives by Stuart 12.137, by Penrose 12.165, by Paccard 12.148, differences due to scale and not to slips in measuring. Probably 12.16 is the nearest value. There are but few buildings wrought on this foot in Asia Minor, Greece or Roman remains. The Greek system, however, adopted this foot as a basis for decimal multiplication, forming

foot, 10=acaena; 10=plethron
12.16 inches 121.6 1216

which stand as 1/6th of the other decimal series based on the digit. This is the agrarian sv-stem, in contrast to the orguia system, which was the itinerary series (33).

Then a further modification took place, to avoid the inconvenience of dividing the foot in i6| digits, and a new digit was formed—longer than any value of the old digit—of 1/16 of the foot, or .760, so that the series ran

digit 10=lichas
96 =orguia, 10=amma, 10=stadion.
.76 inch 76 72.9 729 7296.

This formation of the Greek system (25) is only an inference from the facts yet known, for we have not sufficient information to prove it, though it seems much the simplest and most likely history.

11.62 in
Seeing the good reasons for this digit having been exported to the West from Egypt—from the presence of the 18.23 cubit in Egypt, and from the -729 digit being the decimal base of the Greek long measures— it is not surprising to find it in use in Italy as a digit, and multiplied by 16 as a foot. The more so as the half of this foot, or 8 digits, is marked off as a measure on the Egyptian cubit rods (33). Though Queipo has opposed this connexion (not noticing the Greek link of the digit), he agrees that it is supported by the Egyptian square measure of the plelhron, being equal to the Roman actus (33). The foot of 11-6 appears probably first in the prehistoric and early Greek remains, and is certainly found in Etrurian tomb dimensions as 11-59 (25). Dorpfeld considers this as the Attic foot, and states the foot of the Greek metro logical relief at Oxford as 1 1 -6 5 (or 11-61, Hultsch). Hence we see that it probably passed from the Eagt through Greece to Etruria, and thence became the standard foot of Rome; there, though divided by the Italian duodecimal system into 12 unciae, it always maintained its original i6 digits, which are found marked on some of the foot-measures. The well-known ratio of 25:24 between the 12-16 foot and this we see to have arisen through one being % of 100 and the other 16 digits— 16|: 16 being as 25: 24, the legal ratio. The mean of a dozen foot-measures (1) gives 11 -616 ±-008, and of long lengths and buildings Ii-6o7=t-oi. In Britain and Africa, however, the Romans used a rather longer form (25) of about 11-68, or a digit of -730 . Their series of measures was—

digitus, 4 = palmus, 4=pes. 5 = passus, i2S=stadium, 8 = mniiare; 726 inch 2"9o 11-62 581 7262 58,100 also uncia '968=1') pes, palmipes I4"s2 = s palmi, cubitus 17-43 = 6 pahnL

Either from its Pelasgic or Etrurian use or from Romans, this foot appears to have come into prehistoric remains, as the circle of Stonehenge (26) is 100 ft. of 11-68 across, and the same is found in one or two other cases. 11.60 also appears as the foot of some medieval English buildings (25).

We now pass to units between which we cannot state any connexion.

251. — The earliest sign of this cubit is in a chamber at Abydos (44) about 1400 B.C.; there, below the sculptures, the plain wall is marked out by red designing lines in spaces of 25.13±.03 in., which have no relation to the size of the chamber or to the sculpture. They must therefore have been marked by a workman using a cubit of 25.13. Apart from medieval and other very uncertain data, such as the Sabbath day's journey being 2000 middling paces for 2000 cubits, it appears that Josephus, using the Greek or Roman cubit, gives half as many more to each dimensiori of the temple than does the Talmud; this shows the cubit used in the Talmud for temple measures to be certainly not under 25 in. Evidence of the early period is given, moreover, by the statement in i Kings (vii. 26) that the brazen sea held 2000 baths; the bath being about 2300 cub. in., this would show a cubic of 25 in. The corrupt text in Chronicles of 3000 baths would need a still longer cubit; and, if a lesser cubit of 21-6 or 18 in. be taken, the result for the size of the bath would be impossibly small. For other Jewish cubits see 18-2 and 21-6. Oppert (24) concludes from inscriptions that there was in Assyria a royal cubit of j the U cubit, or 25-20; and four monuments show (25) a cubit averaging 25-28. For Persia Queipo {33) relies on, and develops, an Arab statement that the Arab hashama cubit was the royal Persian, thus fixing it at about 25 in.; and the Persian guerze at present is 25, the royal guerze being I J times this, or 37J in. As a unit of 1-013, decimally multiplied, is most commonly to be deduced from the ancient Persian buildings, we may take 2534 as the nearest approach to the ancient Persian unit. 2r6. — The circuit of the city wall of Khorsabad (24) is minutely stated on a tablet as 24,740 ft. (U), and from the actual size the U is therefore 10.806 in. Hence the recorded series of measures on the Senkerch tablet are valued (Oppert) as—

inch 2o=fpa!m), 3 = U, 6=qanu, 2 = 5a, 5=fii). 12=us, 30>=kasbu. 777S 223.280 3-6 = U.60 10-80 648 129-6 643 Other units are the suklum or 1/2U=5.4, and cubit of 2U = 21.9, which are not named in this tablet. In Persia (24) the series on the same base was—


3=arasDi, 360»a3parasa, 30=para thafiba, 2=g§ v; xo-7 iiiches






yava, 6=aiicu&t4i

xo=vitast]; and gama^Jarasni; also bazu=>2 ar^siu.

  • iS inch







The values here given are from some Persian buildings (25), which indicate 21-4, or slightly less; Oppcrt's value, on less certain data, is 21-52. The Egyptian cubits nave an arm at 15 digits or about 10-9 marked on them, which seems like this same unit (33). This cubit was also much used by the Jews (33), and is so often referred to that it has eclipsed the 25-1 cubit in most writers. The Gemara names 3 Jewish cubits (2) of 5, 6 and 7 palms; and, as Oppert (24) shows that 25-2 was reckoned 7 palms, 21-6 being 6 palms, we may reasonably apply this scale to the Gemara list, and read it as 18, 21 -6 and 25-2 in. There is also a great amount of

medieval "and other data showing this cubit of 21-6 to have been familiar to the Jews after their captivity; but there is no evidence for its earlier date, as there is for the 25-in. cubit (from the brazen sea) and for the i8-in. cubit from the Siloam inscription. From Assyria also it passed into Asia Minor, being found on the city standard of Ushak in Phrj'gia (33), engraved as 2I-8, divided into the Assyrian foot of lo-8, and half and quarter, 5-4 and 2-7 . Apparently the same unit is found (18) at Heraclea in Lucania, 21-86; and, as the general foot of the South Italians, or Oscan foot (18), best defined by the 100 feet square being -f ^ of the jugerum, and therefore = io-8o or half of 2 1 -60. A cubit of 21-5 seems certainly to be indicated in prehistoric remains in Britain, and also in early Christian buildings in Ireland (25). 22-2. — Another unit not far different, but yet distinct, is found apparently in Punic remains at Carthage (25), about 11-16 (22-32), and probably also in Sardinia as 11-07 (22-14), where it would naturally be of Punic origin.

In the Hauran 22-16 is shown by a basalt door (British Museum), and perhaps elsewhere in Syria (25). It is of some value to trace this measure, since it is indicated by some prehistoric English remains as 22-4 . 200. — This unit may be that of the pre-Semitic Mesopotamians, as it is found at the early temple of Muifayyir (Ur); and, with a few other cases (25), it averages 19-97. It '^ described by Oppert (24), from Kterary sources, as the great U of 222 susi or 39-96, double of 19-98; from which was formed a reed of 4 great U or 159-8 . The same measure decimally divided is also indicated by buildings in Asia Minor and Syria (25).

19-2 . — In Persia some buildings at Persepolis and other places (25) are constructed on a foot oil 9-6, or cubit of 19-2; while the modern Persian arish is 38-27 or 2X19- 13. The same is found very clearly in Asia Minor (25), averaging 19-3; and it is known in literature as the Pythic foot (18, 33) of 9-75, or -J of 19-5, if Censorinus is rightly understood. It may be shown by a mark (33) on the 26th digit of Sharpe's Egyptian cubit = 19-2 in. 13-3. — This measure does not seem to belong to very early times, and it may probably have originated in Asia Minor. It is found

there as 13-35 in buildings. Hultsch gives it rather less, at 13-1, as the " small Asiatic foot."

Thence it passed to Greece, where it is found (25) as 13-36. In Romano-African remains it is often found, rather higher, or 13-45 average (25). It lasted in Asia

apparently till the building of the palace at Mashita (a.d . 620), where it is 13-22, according to the rough measures we have (25). And it may well be the origin of the dira' Starabuli of 26-6, twice I3"3- Found in Asia Minor and northern Greece, it does not appear unreasonable to connect it, as Hultsch does, with the Belgic foot of the Tungri, v/hich was legalized (or perhaps introduced) by Drusus when governor, as i longer than the Roman foot, or 13-07

this statement was evidently an approximation by an increase of 2 digits, so that the small difference from 13-3 is not worth notice. Further, the pertica was 12 ft. of 18 digits, i.e. Drusian feet.

Turning now to England, we find (25) the commonest building foot up to the 15th century averaged 13·22. Here we see the Belgic foot passed over to England, and we can fill the gap to a considerable extent from the itinerary measures. It has been shown (31) that the old English mile, at least as far back as the 13th century, was of 10 and not 8 furlongs. It was therefore equal to 79,200 in., and divided decimally into 10 furlongs, 100 chains, or 1000 fathoms. For the existence of this fathom (half the Belgic pertica) we have the proof of its half, or yard, needing to be suppressed by statute (9) in 1439, as “the yard and full hand,” or about 40 in.,—evidently the yard of the most usual old English foot of 13·22, which would be 39·66. We can restore then the old English system of long measure from the buildings, the statute-prohibition, the surviving chain and furlong, and the old English mile shown by maps and itineraries, thus:—

foot, 3=yard, 2=fathom, 10=chain, 10=furlong, 10=mile
13·22 39·66 79·32 793 7923 79,320

Such a regular and extensive system could not have been put into use throughout the whole country suddenly in 1250, especially as it must have had to resist the legal foot now in use, which was enforced (9) as early as 950. We cannot suppose that such a system would be invented and become general in face of the laws enforcing the 12-in. foot. Therefore it must be dated some time before the 10th century, and this brings it as near as we can now hope to the Belgic foot, which lasted certainly to the 3rd or 4th century, and is exactly in the line of migration of the Belgic tribes into Britain. It is remarkable how near this early decimal system of Germany and Britain is the double of the modern decimal metric system. Had it not been unhappily driven out by the 12-in. foot, and repressed by statutes both against its yard and mile, we should need but a small change to place our measures in accord with the metre.

The Gallic leuga, or league, is a different unit, being 1·59 British miles by the very concordant itinerary of the Bordeaux pilgrim. This appears to be the great Celtic measure, as opposed to the old English, or Germanic, mile. In the north-west of England and in Wales this mile lasted as 1·56 British miles till 1500; and the perch of those parts was correspondingly longer till this century (31). The “old London mile” was 5000 ft., and probably this was the mile which was modified to 5280 ft., or 8 furlongs, and so became the British statute mile.

Standards of Area. — We cannot here describe these in detail. Usually they were formed in each country on the squares of the long measures. The Greek system was







1.027 sq. ft.

36 96




The Roman system was






- 94 sq.ft.








4 = saltus.

6205 acre




Standards of Volume. — There is great uncertainty as to the exact values of all ancient standards of volume— the only precise data being those resulting from the theories of volumes derived from the cubes of feet and cubits. Such theories, as we have noticed, are extremely likely to be only approximations in ancient times, even if recognized then; and our data are quite inadequate for clearing the subject.

If certain equivalences between volumes in different countries are stated here, it must be plainly understood that they are only known to be approximate results, and not to give a certain basis for any theories of derivation. All the actual

monumental data that we have are alluded to here, with their amounts. The impossibility of safe correlation of units necessitates a division by countries.

Egypt- — The.hon was the usual small standard; by 8 vases which have contents stated in hons (8, 12, 20, 22, 33, 40) the mean is 292 cub. in. =t

6; by 9 unmarked pottery measures (30) 29-1 ±-l6, and divided by 20; by 18 vases, supposed multiples of hon (1), 32-1 ±-2 . These last are probably only rough, and we may take 29-2 cub. in.


- 5. This was reckoned (6) to hold 5 utens of water (uten.-. 1470

grains), which agrees well to the weight; but this was probably an approximation, and not derivative, as there is (14) a weight called shet of 4-70 or 4-95 uten, and this was perhaps the actual weight of a hon. The variations of hon and uten, however, cover one another completely. From ratios stated before Greek times (35) the series of multiples was



4=hoimu, io=apet (

io=fTheban), io=sa.

or besha (4=Lima

3-65 cub. in.







(Theban) is the " great Theban measure." In Ptolemaic times the artaba (2336-), modified from the Persian, was general in Egypt, a working equivalent to the Attic metretes —

value 2 apet or 5 tama; medimnus = taraa or 2 artabas, and fractions down to j-Jo artaba (35). In Roman times the artaba remained (Didymus), but ^ was the usual unit (name unknown), and this w"as° divided down to -^ or -rh artaba (35) —thus producing by ^ artaba a working equivalent to the xestes and se.tarius (35). Also a new Roman artaba (Didymus) of 1540- was brought in. Beside

the equivalence of the hon to 5 utens weight of water, the mathematical papyrus (35) gives- 5 besha = J cubic cubit (Revillout's interpretation of this as I cubit' is impossible geometrically; see Rev. Eg., 1881, for data); this is very concordant, but it is very unlikely for 3 to be introduced in an Egyptian derivation, and probably therefore only a working equivalent. The other ratio of Rcvillout and Hultsch, 320 hons = cubit', is certainly approximate. Syria, Palestine and Babylonia. — Here there are no monumental data known; and the literary information does not distinguish the closely connected, perhaps identical, units of these lands. More-

over, none of the writers are before the Roman period, and many relied on are medieval rabbis. A large number of their statements are rough (2, 18, 33), being based on the working equivalence of the bath or epha with the Attic metretes, from which are sometimes drawn fractioncJ statements which seem more accurate than they are. This, however, shows the bath to be about 2500 cub. in. There are two better data (2) of Epiphanius and Theodoret—Attic medimnus = 1 J- baths, and saton (J- bath) = ifmodii; these give about 2240 and 2260 cub. in .

The best datum is in Josephus {.'Uil. iii. 15, 3), where 10 baths = 41 Attic or 31 Sicilian medimni, for which it is agreed we must read modii (33); hence the bath =2300 cub. in. Thus these

three different reckonings agree closely, but all equally depend on the Greek and Roman standards, which are not well fixed. The Sicilian modius here is ij, or slightly under I, of the bath, and so probably a Punic variant of the } bath or saton of Phoenicia. One close datum, if trustworthy, would be log of water = Assyrian mina . -. bath about 2200 cub. in. The rabbinical statement of cub. cubit of 21 -5 holding 320 logs puts the bath at about 2250 cub. in.; their log-measure, holding six hen's eggs, shows it to be over rather than under this amount; but their reckoning of bath = § cubit cubed is but approximate: by 21-5 it is 1240, by 25-1 it is 1990 cubic in. The earliest Hebrew system was — flog, 4=kab) 3—bin, 6 > (bath, or), < '>"TMfr —"rt.

  • issar6a

10J epha) (otkot —dry. 3JXub. in. 128 J30 283 jjoo 23,000 "Issaron ( tenth-deal "} is also called gomer. The log and kab are not found till the later writings, but the ratio of hin to 'issaron is practically fixed in early times by the proportions in Num. xv . 4 -9 . tpiphanius stating great hin= 18 xeste3, and holy hin = 9, must refer to Syrian xestes, equal to 24 and 12 Roman; this makes holy hin as above, and great liin a double hin, i.e . seah or saton. His other statements of saton =56 or 50 sextaria remain unexplained, unless this be an error for bath =560r 50 Syr. sext. and .-. =2290 or 2560 cub. in. The wholesale theory of Revillout (35) that all Hebrew and Syrian measures were doubled by the Ptolemaic revision, while retaining the same names, rests entirely on the resemblance of the names apet and epha, and of log to the Coptic and late measure lok. But there are other reasons against accepting this, besides the improbability of such a change. The Phoenician and old Carthaginian system was (18) — log. 4=kab, 6«=satoo, 30=corus, 31 cub. in. 13S 740 33,200 valuing them by 31 Sicilian =41 Attic modii (Josephus, above). The old Syrian system was (18) — cotyle. 2 = Syr. xestes, iS=sabitha or salon, iJ=colbthon, 2 = bath-artaba; 31 cub. ID. 41 740 II 10 3220 also Syr. xestes, 4S=niaris, 2=»mclreresor arlaba. 41 1850 3700 The later or Seleucidan system was (18) — cotyle, 2 = Syr. xestes, 90—Syr. metretes, 23 44 4000 the Syrian being 1 1 Roman sextarii. The Babylonian system was very similar (18) — (J, , 4 =capitha, |;5l'°^ epha, 1980 2380 io<=honBer, 6 =achane. 33 cub. in. 132 1980 2380 33.S00 142,800 The approximate value from capitha=2 Attic choenices (Xenophon) warrants us in taking the achane as fixed in the following system, which places it closely in accord with the preceding. In Persia Huitsch states — capetis 48 =artaba, 40 maris

7 74'4 cub. in. 1983 3570 ° > =achanc. the absolute values being fixed by artaba = 5l Attic choenices (Herod, i. 192). The maris of the Pontic system is i of the above, and the Macedonian and Naxian maris r", of the Pontic (18). By the theory of maris = i of 20-6' it is 1755-; by maris = Assyrian talent, 1850, in place of 1850 or 1980 stated above; hence the more likely theory of weight, rather than cubit, connexion is nearer to the facts. Aeginetan System. — This is so called from according with the Aeginetan weight. The absolute data are all dependent on the Attic and Roman systems, as there are no monumental data. The series of names is the same as in the Attic system (18). The values are 1 5 Xthe Attic (Athenaeus, Theophrastus, &c.) (2, 18), or more closely 1 1 to 12 times of Attic. Hence, the Attic cotyle being 17-5 cub. in., the Aeginetan is about 25-7 . The Boeotian system (18) included the achane; if this = Persian, then cotyle = 24-7 . Or, separately through the Roman system, the mnasis of Cyprus (18) = 170 sextarii; then the cotyle = 24-8 . By the theory of the metretes being 15 talents Aeginetan, the cotyle would be 23-3 to 24-7 cub. in. by the actual weights, which have tended to decrease. Probably then 250 is the best approximation. By the theory (18) of 2 metretes = cube of the 18-67 cubit from the 12-45 foot, the cotyle would be about 25-4, within -4; but then such a cubit is unknown among measures, and not likely to be formed, as 12-4 is I of 20-6 . The Aeginetan system then was — cotyle, 4 = chocnix, | ^;^.°^.tVc, eus.

4=meVrete, 'ij =» «iimnu3. 2S cub. in. 100 300 800 3200 4800 This was the system of Sparta, of Boeotia (where the aporryma =4 choenices, the cophinus = 6 choenices, and saites or saton or hectcus = 2 aporrymac, while 30 medimni=achane, evidently Asiatic connexions throughout), and of Cyprus (where 2 chocs = Cyprian niedimnus, of which 5 = medimnus of Salamis, of which 2 = mnasis (18) Attic or Usual Greek System. — ^The absolute value of this system is far from certain. The best data are three stone slabs, each with several standard volumes cut in them (11, 18), and two named vases. The value of the cotyle from the Naxian slab is 15-4 (best, others 14-6 -19-6); from a vase about 166; from the Panidum slab 17-1 (var. 16-2 -18-2); from a Capuan vase 17-8; from the Ganus slab 17-8 (var. 17—18). From these we may take 17-5 as a fair approximation. It is supposed that the Panathenaic vases were intended as metretes; this would show a cotyle of 14-4 -17-1 . The theories of connexion give, for the value of the cotyle, metretes = Aeginetan talent, . - . i5-4-l6-6; metres j of l2-i6 cubed, .• .l6-6; metretes = |J of 12-16 cubed, . • . l6-8; medimnus = 2 Attic talents, hecteus = 20 minae, choenix = 2j minae, . • . 16-75; mctretes = 3 cub. spithami (J cubit =9 -12), .-. 17-5; 6 metretes=2 ft. of 12-45 cubed, . • . 17-8 cub. in. for cotyle. But probably as good theories could be found for any other amount; and certainly the facts should not be set aside, as almost every author has done, m favour of some one of half a dozen theories. The system of multiples was for liquids — cvathus, il=oiybaphon, 4=cotyle, ij^chous, 12— metretes, 29cub.in. 44 175 aio 2520 with the tetarton (8-8), 2=cotyle, 2=xestes (35-), introduced from the Roman system. For dry measure — cyathus, 6=cotyIe, 4=choenix, 8 = hcctcus, 6Bmedinu]us, 29cub.in. 175 70 s6o 3360 with the xestes, and amphoreus (1680) = | medimnus, from the froman system. The various late provincial systems of division are beyond our present scope (18). System of Gythium.—A system differing widely both in units and names from the preceding is found on the standard slab of Gythium in the southern Peloponnesus (Rev. Arch., 1872). Writers have unified it with the Attic, but it is decidedly larger in its unit, givii^ 19-4 (var. I9-H9-8) for the supposed cotyle. Its system is — cotyle, 4=hem)hecton, 4==chous, 58 cub. in. jjj 933 3=f»). 2796 And with this agrees a pottery cylindrical vessel, with official stamp on it (AI1M0210.N, &c.), and having a fine black line traced round the inside, near the top, to show its limit; this seems to be probably very accurate, and contains 585 cub. in., closely agreeing with the cotyle of Gythium. It has been described {Rev. Arch., 1872) as an Attic choenix. Gythium being the southern port of Greece, it seems not too far to connect this 58 cub. in. with the double of the Egyptian hon =58-4, as it is different from every other Greek system. Roman System. — The celebrated Farnesian standard congius of bronze of Vespasian, " mensurae cxactaein Capitolio P. X ., " con- tains 206-7 cub. in. (2), and hence the amphora 1654, By the sextarius of Dresden (2) the amphora is 1695; by the congius of Ste Genevieve (2) 1700 cub. in.; and by the ponderarium measures at Pompeii (33) 1540 to 1840, or about 1620 for a mean. So the Farnesian congius, or about 1650, may best be adopted. The system for liquid was — quartarius, here it is common (29), and It IS known from a papyrus (38) to be a Syrian weight. The uten IS found ^6 = 245. >n Upper Egypt (rare) (44). Another division (.n a papyrus) (38) is a silver wefght of, % kat=about 88perhaps the Babylonian siglus of 86. The uten was also binarily divided into 128 peks of gold in Ethiopia; this may refer to another standard (see 129) (33) The Ptolemaic copper coinage is on two

divided, and the l>toIemaic five shekels —ge— number than other students have used, and study by diagrams.) The theory ten from

^5^ cubic cubit of water

would fix It at 1472, which is accordant; but there seems no authority either in volumes or weights for taking 1500 utens. Another theory (3) derives the uten from tAd of the cubic cubit of 24 digits, or better f of 20-63:

that, however, will only fit the very lowest variety of the uten, while there is no evidence of the existence of such a cubit the haematite weights of Troy (44) are nine examples, average 144, but not of extreme vaneties.

129 grs.; 258 grs.

reat standard of Babylonia became the 7750; 15,500;

parent of

several other systems; and itself 465,000.

derivatives became more widely spread

than any other standard. It was known in two forms—one system (24) of









and the other system double of this in each stage except the talent Uiese two systems are distinctly named on the weights, anH are known now as the light and heavy Assyrian systems (19, 24) (It S.


t° avoid the name Babylonian, as it has other meanings also.)

There are no weights dated before the Assyrian bronze lion wreights (9, 17, 19. 38) of the nth to 8th centuries B.C . Thirteen of this class average 127-2 for the shekel; 9 haematite barrel-shaped weights (38) give 128-2; 16 stone duck-weights (38) i^6-s A

heavier value is shown by the precious metals— the gold plates Irom Khorsabad (18) giving 129, and the gold daric coinage (21 35) pi Persia 129-2. Nine weights from Syria (44) average 128-8 This IS the system of the " Babylonian " talent, by Herodotus = 70 minae Luboic, by Pollux = 70 minae Attic, by Aelian =72 minae Attic, and therefore, about 470,000 grains. In Egypt this is found largely at INaucratis (28, 29), and less commonly at Defenneh (29) In both places the distribution, a high type of 129 and a lower of 127 is like the monetary and trade varieties above noticed; while a smaller number of examples are found, fewer and fewer, down to 1 18 grains At ftlemphis (44) the shekel is scarcely known, and a ^ mina wcght was there converted into another standard (of 200). A few barrel weights are found at Ivarnak, and Aiveral egg-shaped shekel weights at Oebelen (44); also two cuboid weights from there (44) of i and 10 utens are marked as 6 and 60. which can hardly refer to any unit but the heavy shekel giving 245. Hultsch refers to Egyptian gold rings ol Dynasty WIII. of 125grains. That this unit penetrated far to the south in early tunes is shown by the tribute of P-Cush (34) in Dynasty XVUI; this IS of 801, 1443 and 23,741 kats, orl5and 27 manehs and 7 J talents when reduced to this system. And the later Ethiopic gold unit of the pek (7), orTisof the uten, was 10-8 or more, and may therefore be the ^ sikhir or obolos of 21-5 . But the fraction rh. or a contmued binary division repeated seven times, is such a likely mode of rude subdivision that little stress can be laid on this. In later

times in Egypt a class of large glass scarabs for funerary purposes seem to be adjusted to the shekel (30). Whether this system or the IKhoemcian of 224 grains was that of the Hebrews is uncertain 1 here IS no doubt but that in the Maccabean times and onward 218 was the shekel; but the use of the word darkemon by Ezra and Wehemiah, and the probabilities of their case, point to the daragmaneh ^ maneh or shekel of Assyria; and the mention of J shekel by Neheniiah as poll tax nearly proves that the 129 and not 218 grams is intended, as 218 is not divisible by 3. But the Maccabean use of 218 may have been a reversion to the older shekel; and this is strongly shown by the fraction i shekel (i Sam. ix. 8), the continual mention of large decimal numbers of shekels in the earlier books and the cenain fact of 100 shekels being = mina. This would all be against the 129 or 258 shekel, and for the 218 or 224. There is hoxvever, one good datum if it can be trusted: 300 talents of silver ^-i



"'^ ^""^ ^°° talents on Sennacherib's cylinder (34) while the 30 talents of gold is the same in both accounts. Eight hundred talents on the Assyrian silver standard would be 267— or roundly 300— talents on the heavy trade or gold system, which is therefore probably the Hebrew. Probably the 129 and 224 systems coexisted in the country; but on the whole it seems more likely that 129 or rather 258 grains was the Hebrew shekel before the Ptolemaic times—especially as the 100 shekels to the mina is paralleled by the following Persian system (Hultsch) (ANCIENT HISTORICAL

shekd ^ 5°""'"^

60 -talent of gold

(60- .


6o=taIent of trade.


129 grs,

64S0 77SO


the Hebrew system being




»o = taIent





and, considering that the two Hebrew cubits are the Babylonian and Icrsian units, and the volumes are also Babylonian, it is the more ihJ^. K-

^^^ weights should have come with these. From the

east thus unit passed to Asia Minor: and six multiples of 2 To 20 ?^^ nir H-

^7) are found among the haematite w^eights of Troy (44), including the oldest of them. On the Aegean coast it often occurs in early coinage (17)-at Lampsacus 131-129, Phocaea 2^6^ 254, Cyzicus 252-247, Methymna 124-6 . &c. In later tirn^if„^^s a main unit of North Syria, and also on the Euxine, leaded we ght^ of Antioch (.3), Callatia and Tomis being known (38). The mean Q^ these eastern weights is 7700 for the mina, or 128. But the l^den ^eights of the w-est (44) from Corfu, &c., average 7580, or .26, th^" standard was kept up at Cyzicus in trade lon| ifter i° was Lt in coinage At Corinth the unit was evidently the Assyrian and not the Att.c . or 133. later) and being ^3, and not into 2 drachms. And this agrees with the mina being repeatedly found at Corcyra, and with the in dfvUW; Posing to the Italian coinage (17) similar in weight and Veli^ Svh

^ -"l" •'"^T,

=°'"^g^^ ('^) down to 400 B.C. (Terina l!l;, / Ti

r°^'d°"'a. Metapontum, Tarentum, &c.) being none Z SivH"" li'^ '^v, """? '"^"P were adjusted to the Attic and mse to Jt .u

"" y^'^Jghts from Carthage (44) show 126. It is usually the case that a unit lasts later in trade than in coinage: and the promin! Z%°J 'I'" '^'"'^^'i'^

" ^'y


^°^ ^°"' '« i^ that this mTna 18 Dloscoridi^i)""

"^^^"'"""'"'^'^^y^°fGalenand 126 grs.

- A. variation on the main system was made by forming a 6300.

"""^ °' 50 shekels. This is one of the Persian series (gold)

and the { of the Hebrew scries noted above. But it is most striking when it is found in the mina form which distinguishes t.

Eleven weights from Syria and Cnidus (^4) (of the curious fy?c, ^V

t^TM. l^reasts on a rectangular block) show a mina of 62^0 ifX^.,


IS singular that this class is exactly like weights of the 224 system found with it but yet quite distinct in standlrd. 1 he same passed into Italy and Corfu (44), averaging 6000-divided Corfu ('T.-r?-'"



^"iP"lae (rf,). and called litra Un Corfu/).

It IS known in the coinage of Hatria (18) as 6320. And f vVfv,?"

^"-'"°? of. the shekel in 10 (probably therefore connected with this decimal mina) is shown by a series of bronze weights (44) niTM T

^"'^1'^ ', "^^! """d marked with circles (British Kluseum place unknown), which may be Romano-Gallic, averaging 12s -10 rhis whole class seems to cling to sites of Phoenician tra^e. and to keep clear of Greece and the noith-perhaps a Phoenician form of the 29 system, avoiding the sexagesimal multiples. If this unit have any connexion with the kat, it is that a kat of gold IS worth 15 shekels or J mina of silver; this agrees well with the range of both units, only it must be remembered that 120 was used as gold unit, and another silver unit deduced from it. More

and Babylonil*^

^^ """ ' originated independently in Egypt 86 grs.

^1°"}. '29 grains of gold was adopted an equal value 8600; °



72°' °" the proportion of 1: 13^ and this 516,000 .

w?s divided in 10=172— which was used either in this form, or its half, 86, best known as the siglus (17) buch a proportion IS indicated in Num. vii., where the gold spoon of 10 shekels IS equal in value to the bowl of 1 30 shekels, or double that of 70, t.c . the silver vessels were 200 and 100 sigli. The silver plates at Khorsabad (18) we find to be 80 sigli of S4-6 . The Persian silver coinage shows about 86-0; the danak was i of this or 28 7 Xenophon and others state it at about 84. As a monetary weight it seems to have spread, perhaps entirely, in consequence of the Persian dominion; It vanes from 174- downwards, usually 167, m Aradus CMCia and on to the Aegean coast, in Lydia and in Macedonia (17) I he silver bars found at Troy averaging 2744. or i mina of 8232, hax* been attributed to this unit (17); but no division of the mina in i is to be expected, and the average is rather low. Two haematite weights from Troy (44) show 86 and 87-2 . The mean from leaden weilhts of Chios, Tenedos (44), &c., is 8430. A duck-weight of Camirus probably early, gives 8480; the same passed on to Greece and Italy (17), averaging 8610; but in Italy it was divided, like all other units into unciae and scnpulae (44). It is perhaps found in Etrurian coinage as 1 75-' 72 (17). By the Romans it was used on the Danube (18) two weights of the first legion there showing 8610; and this is the mina of 20 unciae (8400) named by Roman writers. The system was










A derivation from this was the J of 172. or 57-3 . the so-called fhocaean drachma, equal in silver value to the j'o of the gold 2s8 grains.

It was used at Phocaea as 58-5, and parsed to the colonics ot 1 osidoma and Velia as 59 or 1 18. The colony of Massilia brought It into Gaul as 5812-54-0 .

224 grs

Jhat this unit (commonly called Phoenician) is derived 11,200- "°^ the 129 system can hardly be doubted, both being so intimately associated in Syria and Asia Minor. The 672,000.

relation is 258: 229::9:8; but the exact form in which > ..aiiu.i 13 .cjo . .J .- 9;;y:o; dui the exact lorm in which the descent took place is not settled: ^ or 129 of gold is worth 57 of silver or a drachm, J of 230 (or by trade weights 127 and 226); other^vise, deriving it from the silver weight of 86 already formed the drachm is } of the stater, 172. or double of the Persian danak of 28-7, and the sacred unit of Didyma in Ionia was this half-drachm. 27; or thirdly, what is indicate cf by the Lydian coinage (17). 86 of gold was equal to 1150 of silver, 5 shekels or f^ mina. Other proposed derivations from the kat or pek arc not satisfactory. Inactual use this unit varied greatly: at ^laucratis (29) there are groups of it at 231, 223 and others down to 208; this is the earliest form in which we can study it, and the corresponding values to these are 130 and 126, or the gold and trade varieties of the Babylonian, while the lower tail down to 208 corresponds to the shekel down to 118, which is just what is found. Hence the 224 unit seems to have been formed from the 129, after the main families or types of that had arisen. It is

scarcer at Defenneh (29) and rare at Memphis (44). Under the Ptolemies, however, it became the great unit of Egypt, and is very prominent in the later literature in consequence (18, 35). The average of coins (21) of Ptolemy I. gives 2196, and thence they gradually diminish to 210, the average (33) of the whole scries of Ptolemies being 218. The "argentcus" (as Rcvillout transcribes a sign in the papyri) (35) was of 5 shekels, or 1090; it arose about 440 B.C ., and became after 160 B.C . a weight unit for copper. In Syria, as early as the 15th century B.C ., the tribute of the Rutennu, of Naharaina, IVlegiddo, Anaukasa, &c. (34), is on a basis of 454-484 kais, or 300 shekels (^ talent) of 226 grains.

The commonest weight at

Troy (44) is the shekel, averaging 224. In coinage it is one of the commonest units in early times; from Phoenicia, round the coast to Macedonia, it is predominant (17); at a maximum of 230 (lalysus), it is in Macedonia 224, but seldom exceeds 220 elsewhere, the earliest Lydian of the 7th century being 219, and the general average of coins 218. The system was <!¬-- —

(1). --> It also passed into Italy, but !n a smaller multiple of 35 drachmae, or j of the Greek mina; 12 Italian wei^lits (44) bearing value marks (which cannot therefore be differently attributed) show a libra of 2400 or i of 9600, which was divided in unciae and sextulae, and the full-sized mina is known as the 24 uncia mina, or talent of 120 librae of Vitruvius and Isidore (18) =9900. Hultsch states this to be the old Etruscan pound.-

With the trade mina of 9650 in Greece, and recognized in Italy, we can hardly doubt that the Roman libra is 4950 grs- of this mina. At Athens it was 2X4900, and on the average of all the Greek weights it is 2X4825, so that 4950 — t he libra — is as close as we need expect. The division by 12 does not affect the question, as every standard that came into Italy was similarly divided. In the libra, as in most other standards, the value which happened to be first at hand for the coinage was not the mean of the whole of the weights in the country; the Phoenician coin weight is below the trade average, the Assyrian is above, the Aeginetan is below, but the Roman coinage is above the average of trade weights, or the mean standard. Rejecting all weights of the lower empire, the average (44) of about 100 is 4956; while 42 later Greek weights (nomisma, &c.) average 4857, and 16 later Latin ones (solidus, &c.) show 4819. The coinage standard, however, was always higher (18); the oldest gold shows 5056, the Campanian Roman 5054, the consular gold 5037, the aurei 5037, the Constantine solidi 5053 and the Justinian gold 4996. Thus, though it fell in the later empire, like the trade weight, yet it was always above that. Though it has no exact relation to the congius or amphora, yet it is closely =4977 grains, the ^ of the cubic foot of water. If, however, the weight in a degraded form, and the foot in an undegradcd form, come from the East, it is needless to look for an exact relation between them, but rather for a mere working equivalent, like the 1000 ounces to the cubit foot in England. Bockh has remarked the great diversity between weights of the same age— those marked "Ad August! Temp " ranging 4971 to 5535, those tested by the fussy praefect Q. Junius Rusticus vary 4362 to 5625, and a set in the British Museum (44) belonging together vary 4700 to 5168. The series was—



4 = seKtula,



2-87 grs.





the greater weight being the centumpondium of 495,000. Other weights "were added to these from the Greek system —


6 = drachraa,







and the sextula after Constantine had the name of solidus as a coin weight, or nomisma in Greek, marked N on the weights. A beautiful set of multiples of the scfipulura was found near Lyons (38), fro. Ti 1 to I0X17'28 grains, showing a libra of 4976. In Bryzantine times in Egypt glass was used for coin-weights (30), averaging 68-0 for the solidus = 4896 for the libra. The Saxon and

Norman ounce is said to average 416-5 (Num. Chron., 1871, 42), apparently the Roman uncia inherited. ^.,

The system which is perhaps the best known, through 07gi=.

jj.g adoption by Solon in Athens, and is thence called 0700; Attic or Solonic, is nevertheless far older than its intro-402,000. (jm-fiQ[) into Greece, being found in full vigour in Egi'pt in the 6th century B.C . It has been usually reckoned as a rather heavier form of the 129 shekel, increased to 134 on its adoption by Solon.

But the Egyptian weights render this view impossible. Among them (29) the two contiguous groups can be discriminated by the 129 being multiplied by 30 and 60, while the 67 or 134 is differently X25, 40, 50 and 100. Hence, although the two groups overlap owing to their nearness, it is impossible to regard them as all one unit. The 129 range is up to 131-8, while the Attic range is 130 to 138 (65-69). Hultsch reckons on a ratio of 24:25 between them, and this is very near the true values; the full Attic being 67-3, the Assyrian should be 129-2, and this is just the full gold coinage weight. We may perhaps see the sense of this ratio through another system. The 80-grain system, as we have seen, was probably formed by binarily dividing the 10 shekels, or " stone "; and it had a talent (Abydus lion) of 5000 drachmae; this is practically identical with the talent of 6000 Attic drachmae. So the talent of the 80-grain system was sexagesimally divided for the mina which was afterwards adopted by Solon.

Such seems the most likely

history of it, and this is in exact accord with the full original weight of each system.

In Egypt the mean value at Naucratis (29) was 66-7, while at Defenneh (29) and Memphis (44) — probably rather earlier— it was 67-0 . The type of the grouping is not alike in different places, showing that no distinct families had arisen before the diffusion of this unit in Egypt; but the usual range is 65-5 to 69-0. Next it is found at Troy (44) in three cases, all high examples of 68-2 to 68-7; and these are very important, since they cannot be dissociated from the Greek Attic unit, and yet they are of a variety as far removed as may be from the half of the Assyrian, which ranges there from 123-5 to 131; thus the difference of unit between Assyrian and Attic in these earliest of all Greek weights is very strongly marked. At Athens a low variety of the unit was adopted for the coinage, true to the object of Solon in depreciating debts; and the first coinage is of only 65-2, or scarcely within tliq range of the trade weights (28); this seems to have been felt, as, contrary to all other states, Athens slowly increased its coin u-eight up to 66-6, or but little under the trade average. It gradually supplanted the Aeginetan standard in Greece and Italy as the power of Athens rose; and it was adopted by Philip and Alexander (17) for their great gold coinage of 133 and 66-5 . This system is often known as the" Euboic, " owing to its early use in Euboea, and its diffusion by trade from thence. The scries was





6o = talanton.

1-4 grs.





Turning now to its usual trade values in Greece (44), the mean of 113 gives 67-15; but they vary more than the Egyptian examples, having a sub-variety both above and below the main body, which itself exactly coincides with the Egyptian weights. The greater

part of those weights which bear names indicate a mina of double the usual reckoning, so that there was a light and a hea'y system, a mina of the drachma and a mina of the stater, as in the Phoenician and Assyrian weights. In trade both the minae were divided in , h I. 3, and J, regardless of the drachmae. This unit passed also into Italy, the libra of Picenum and the double of the Etrurian and Sicilian libra (17); it was there divided in unciae and scripulae (44), the mean of 6 from Italy and Sicily being 6600; one weight (bought in Smyrna) has the name " Leitra " on it. In literature

it is constantly referred to; but we may notice the " general mina "

(Cleopatra), in Egypt, 16 unciae = 6600; the Ptolemaic talent, equal to the Attic in weight and divisions (Hero, Didymus); the Antiochian talent, equal to the Attic (Hero); the treaty of the Romans with Antiochus, naming talents of 80 librae, i.e. mina of 16 unciae; the Roman mina in Egj-pt, of 15 unciae, probably the same diminished;! and the Italic mina of 16 unciae.

It seems even to have lasted in;

Egypt till the middle ages, as Jabarti and the " katib's guide "I both naihe the rati misri (of Cairo) as 144 dirhenis = 6760. Authorities. — (1) A. Aures, Mitrologie cgyplienne (1880); (2) A. Bockh, Mclrologische Unlersuchungen (1838) (general); (3) P. Bortolotti, Del priinitivo cubilo egizio (1883); (4) J. Brandis, Miinz-, Mass-, und Gewichl-Wcsen (1866) (specially Assyrian); (5) H. Brugsch, in Zcits. dg . Sp. (1870) (Edfu); (6) M. F. Chabas, Determination mclrique (1867) (Egyptian volumes); (7) Id., Re-

clierches sur les poids, mesures, et mo7inaies des aneiens Agypliens; (8) Id., Ztscbr.f . iigypt . Sprache (1867, p. 57; 1870, p. 122) (Egyptian volumes); (9) H. W. Chisholm, Weighing and Measuring (1877) (history of English measures); (10) Id., Ninth Rep. of Warden oj

Standards (1875) (Assyrian); (ll) A. Dumont, Missicji en Thrace (Greek volumes); (12) Eisenlohr, Ztschr. ag. Sp. (1875) (Egyptian hon); (13) W. Golfinischcft', in Rev. egypl. (1881), 177 (Egyptian weights); (14) C. W. Goodwin, in Ztschr. dg . Sp. (1873), p. 16 (shet);

(IS) B. V . Head, in Num. Chron. (1875); (16) Id., Jour. Inst, of Bankers (1879) (systems of weight); (17) Id., Historia numorum

(1887) (essential for coin weights and history of systems); (18) F. Hultsch, Criechische und riimisclie Mctrologie (1882) (essential for literary and monumental facts); (19) Ledrain, in Rev. egypt. (1881), p. 173 (Assyrian); (20) Leemans, Monumens e gyp liens (1838) (Egyptian hon); (21) T. Mommsen, Histoire de la monnaie romaine; (22) Id.,

Monuments divers (Egj'ptian weights); (23) Sir Isaac Newton, Dissertation upon the Sacred Cubit (1737); (24) J. Oppert, £ialon des mesures assyriennes (1875); (25) W. M. F . Petrie, Inductive Metrology (1877) (principles and tentative results); (26) Id.,

Stonehenge (1880); (27) Id.,

Pyramids and Temples of Gizeh

(18S3); (28) Id., Naiihratis, i. (1886) (principles, lists, and curves of weights); (29) Id., Tanis, ii. (1887) (lists and curves); (30) Id., Arch. Jour. (18S3), 419 (weights, Egyptian, &c.); (31) Id., Proc. Roy. Soc. Edin. (1883-1S84), 254 (mile); (32) R. S . Poolc, Brit. Mus. Cat. of Coins, Egypt; (33) Vazquez Queipo, Essai sur les systcmes metriques ('859) (general, and specially Arab and coins); (34) Records of the Past, vols, i.,

ii., vi. (Egyptian tributes, &c.); (35) E. Revillout. in Rev. ig. (1881) (many papers on Egyptian weights, measures, and coins); (36) E. T . Rogers, Num. Chron. (1873) (Arab glass weights); (37) M. H. Sauvaire, in Jour. As. Soc. (1877), translation of Elias of Nisibis, with notes (remarkable for history of babnce);Schillbach (lists of weights, all in next); (38) M. C. Soutzo, Elalons ponderanx primitifs (18S4) (lists of all weights published to date); (39) Id., Systemes n ion eta ires primitifs (1S84) (derivation of units); (40) G. Smith, in Zeits. dg . Sp . (1875); (41) L. Stern, in Rev. eg. (1881), 171 (Egyptian weights); (42) P. Tannery, Rrv. arch.xM. 152; (43) E. Thomas, Numismatn. orientalia, pt. i. (Indian weights); (44) a great amount of material of weightings of weights of Troy (supplied through Dr Schliemann's kindness), Memphis, at the British Museum, Turin, &c.  (W. M. F. P.) 

III. Commercial

I. Denominaliot}S. — The denominations of trade weights and measures at present used in the United Kingdom are represented by " Board of Trade standards, " by which are regulated the accuracy of the common weights and measures handled in shops, &c.:

Imperial Measures of Length.

— 100 feet, 66 feet .or a chain- of

100 links, rod, pole, or perch, measures from to feet to I foot; i" Board of Trade Model Regulations, 1892; Weights and Measures Acts, 1878. 1889. 1892. 1S93. 18 inches; yard of 36 inches, }, }, |, -^ yard, nail, inch, and duodecimal, decimal and binary parts of the inch.

Imperial Measures of Capacity.—Liquid measures from 32 gallons o I gallon, quart, pint, 5 pint, gill, J gill, i gill. Dry measures )f bushel, 3 bushel, peck, gallon, quart, pint, ^ pint. Apotltecaries' Measures. — 40 fluid ounces to J fl. oz., 16 fluid Irachms to J fi. dr., 60 minims to I minim.

Avoirdupois Weights.—Cental (100 lb), 56 lb (§ cwt.), 28 lb, 14 lb stone), 7, 4., 2, I Id;S,4,2, I,5ounce(8drams);4,2, I, idrams. Troy iVeights. — The ounce (480 gr.) and multiples and decimal jarts of the ounce troy from 500 ounces to 0001 oz. Apothecaries' IVeights. — 10 oz. to i oz. (480 gr.); 4 drachms to oz.; 2, I drachms; 2 scruples to | scruple; and 6 grains to i grain. Pennyweights.— 20 dwt. (480 grains), 10, 5, 3, 2, I dwts. Grain Weights. — 4000, 2000, 1000 gr. (making 7000 gr. or I lb), )0O to o-oi gr.

2. The international trade metric weights and measures 1897) handled in shops, &c., of which there are also Board )f Trade standards, are set out as follows:—

[Missing text]

[Missing text] The equivalents of the Russian weights and measures, in terms also of the imperial and metric weights and measures, were recalculated in 1897.[17] The following are the leading equivalents:

4.Local Control.—The necessary local inspection and verification of weights and measures in use for trade (as distinct from the verbal and written use of weights and measures) is in the United Kingdom undertaken by inspectors of weights and measures, who are appointed by the local authorities, as the county and borough councils. An inspector is required to hold a certificate of qualification, and for his guidance general regulations are made by his local authority as to modes of testing weights, measures and weighing instruments.* In Europe the local inspection is generally carried out through the State, and a uniform system of local verification is thereby maintained.

5. Errors.—In the verification of weights and measures a margin of error is permitted to manufacturers and scale-makers, as it is found to be impossible to make two weights, or two measures, so identical that between them some difference may not be found either by the balance or the microscope. For common weights and measures this margin (tolerance, remedy or allowance, as it is also called) has been set out by the Board of Trade for all the various kinds of weights and measures in use for commercial purposes in the United Kingdom, and similar margins of error are recognized in other countries.

For instance, on I lb avoir, weight made of brass, 2 grains in excess arc allowed; on I oz. troy or apothecaries' weight, 4-0-2 grain is allowed; on I pint pot, 4 fluid drachms is permitted; on 1 brass yard, 0-05 inch in excess or 0-02 inch in deficiency in length is allowed for ordinary trade purposes.

6. Foreign Weights and Measures.—Throughout the British Empire the imperial system of weights and measures is legal. In Russia, as in the United Kingdom and the United States, the national weights and measures are followed (§ 3 above), although the use of metric weights and measures is permissive.

In India the native weights, &c., ancient and arbitrary, are still followed. In 1889 the British yard was adopted for the whole of India (Measures of Length Act) at a normal temperature of 85° F. as standardized to the imperial yard at 62° F. The metric system was also introduced, mainly for railway purposes, in 1870 and 1871 (Indian Acts). Certified measures of the yard, foot and inch are kept by the Commissioners of Police at Calcutta, Madras and Bombay.^ In standardizing a weight for use in India, correction has to be made for the weight of air displaced by the material standard, and for such purpose the normal temperature of 85°, atmospheric pressure 29-8 inches, latitude 2->.° 35' 6-5' (Calcutta), g = |^50 o-ggS^S'sj are taken. The " tola " (180 grains) is properly the Government unit of weight for currency; and 80 tolas make the " Government seer."

7. Customary Weights and Measures.—In some districts of the United Kingdom, as well as in provincial districts of other countries, old local and customary denominations of weights and measures are still found to be in use, although their use may have been prohibited by law. So powerful is custom with the people.

8. Legislation.—In everyday transactions with reference to weights and measures, the British legislature also exercises control in industrial pursuits. For instance, in weighing live cattle, owners of markets are now required to provide adequate accommodation.[18] Useful statutes have also been passed to protect the working class, as in checking the weighing instruments used in mines in Great Britain, over which instruments wages are paid, and in the inspection of similar instruments used in factories and workshops. The Merchandise Marks Act 1887 makes it an offence also to apply in trade a false description, as to the number, quantity, measure, gauge or weight of goods sold; and this Act appears to reach offences that the Weights and Measures Acts may perhaps not reach.

9. Pharmaceutical Weights and Measures.—By the Medical Act of 1858, and the Act of 1862, the General Council of Medical Education and Registration of the United Kingdom are authorized to issue a " Pharmacopoeia " with reference to the weights and measures used in the preparation and dispensing of drugs, &c. The British Pharmacopoeia issued by the Council in 1S98 makes no alteration in the imperial weights and measures required to be used by the Pharmacopoeia of 1864. For all pharmaceutical purposes, however, the use of the metric system alone is employed in all paragraphs relating to analysis, whether gravimetric or volumetric. For measures of capacity the Pharmacopoeia continues to use imperial measuring vessels graduated at the legal temperature of 62° F. The official names of the metric capacity units are defined at 4° C, as generally on the Continent. The new Pharmacopoeia also follows foreign practice, and employs metric measures of capacity and volumetric vessels graduated at 15-5 C, or 60° F. Specific gravity bottles are also adjusted at 60° F., the figures indicating specific gravities being quotients obtained by dividing in each instance the weight of the solid or liquid by the weight of an equal bulk of water, both taken at 60° F.*

10. Gauges.—"Gauges," as understood at one time, included only those used in the measurement of barrels, casks, &c., and hence the term " gauger." For engineering and manufacturing purposes the more important linear gauge; are, however, now used, adjusted to some fundamental unit of measure as the inch; although in certain trades, as for wires and flat metals, gauges continue to be used of arbitrary scales and of merely numerical sizes, having no reference to a legal unit of measure; and such are rarely accurate. A standard gauge, however, exists (Order in Council, August 1883), based on the inch, but having numbered sizes from 7/0 (0-5 inch) to No. 50 (0-001 inch) to meet the convenience of certain trades.

11. Screws. — The screw is an important productive measuring instrument, whether used as a micrometer-screw of less than an inch in length, or as a master-screw of 20 feet in length. The probable errors and eccentricities of small micrometer-screws have been carefully investigated to ±o-ooooi inch; but the accuracy of leading screws used in workshops has not been sufficiently verified. For some engineering purposes it would appear to be desirable to produce master-screws to an accuracy of jjVi) of an inch to the foot of screw, so as to serve indirectly for the verification of " guiding screws" for general use in workshops. Attempts in this direction were originally made by Whitworth, Clement, Donklh, Rogers, Bond and others, but we still need a higher accuracy in screw-threads.

12. Educational. — Ordinary arithmetic books often contain references to local and customary weights and measures and to obsolete terms of no practical use to children. It appears to be desirable, as the Committee of Council on Education have done, to recognize only the legal systems of weights and measures —the imperial and metric. The Education Code of Regulations for 1900 prescribes that the tables of weights and measures to be learned include those only which are in ordinary use, viz. in all classes or forms above the third the tables of

Weight — ton, cwt, stone, lb, oz. and dr.,
Length — mile, furlong, rod or pole, chain, yd., ft. and inch,
Capacity —quarter, bushel, pk., gall., qt. and pt.

In Code standards above the fifth, in addition to the foregoing, the tables of

Area— sq. mile, acre, rood, pole, yd., ft. and inch,
Volume—cubic yard, foot and inch.

Instruction in ^he principles of the metric system, and in the advantages to be gained from uniformity in the method of forming multipl es and sub-multiples of the unit, are, under this Code, to be given to the scholars in Standards IV., V., VI. and VII. As a preparation for this it is stated in the Code that it will be useful to give in Standard III. (arithmetic) elementary lessons on the notation of decimal fractions. (See Arithmetic.)

Table of The Principal Foreign Weights and Measures now in use, and of their Equivalents in Imperial or in Metric Weights and Measures.

Stunden.............. Switzerland............ 4.8 kilometres. Stunder = 5 stunden, or 24 kilometres.
Sultchek............. Turkey................. Cubic measure (1881) whose sides equal a parmak(decimetre).
Sung................. Corea.................. 4 lb a V., nearly.
Tael................. Siam................... 936.25 grains.
Hong Kong.............. 1.5 oz. av.
China.................. Silver weight, 1.25 oz. av.
Japan.................. 10 momme. (No current coin of the tael.)
Tahil................ Straits Settlements.... 1+(1/3) oz. aV. = 10 chee = 100 Hoon.
Tam.................. Hong Kong.............. 133+(1/3) lb. av.
Tan.................. China.................. =25 gallons. Also 133.5 lb weight.
Tang................. Burma.................. 2 miles, nearly.
Tang-sun............. China.................. About 3+1/2 miles = 10 li.
Tank................. Bombay................. 17+(1/72) grains, or 72 tanks = 30 pice.
Tcharka.............. Russia................. 0.866 gill = 0.218 pint.
Tchetverte........... Russia................. 5.772 bushels = 8 tchetveriks, or 2.099 hectolitres.
Teng................. Burma.................. Burmese measures of capacity depend on the teng or basket. Officially a basket is 2218.2 cubic inches, but the teng varies locally: —
Akyab = 23 lb. of rice.
Bassein = 51 lb of rice.
Moulmein = 48 lb of rice.
Rangoon = 48 to 50 lb of rice.
Thanan............... Siam................... 1.5 pint.
Thangat.............. Siam................... 4.688 gallons.
To................... Japan.................. 18.0391 litres =3.9703 galls. = 1.98 pecks.
Toise................ France................. 2.1315 yards.
Tola................. India.................. 180 grains. Legal weight of rupee.
Tomand............... Arabia................. 187.17 lb, av. of rice.
Ton ................. U. States.............. 2240 lb. av., also a net ton of 2000/lb.
Tönds................ Denmark................ 131.392 litres (liquid measure).
139.121 litres (dry measure).
Tonne, or Millier.... France................. 1000 kilogrammes
Germany................ 1000 kgs.
Tonne (metric)..... ......................... 1000 kgs = 0.9842 ton
Tonnelada............ Portugal............... 793.15 kilogrammes.
Tonos................ Greece................. 29.526 cwt.
Tou.................. China.................. 18 pints approximately.
Tovar................ Bulgaria............... 128.2 kilogrammes.
T'sun................ China.................. 1.41 inch (Treaty measure).
Tu................... China.................. 100.142 miles=25 li, based on the ch'ih of 14.1 inches.
Vara................. Peru................... 33 inches.
Spain.................. 2.782 feet.
Argentina.............. 2.841 feet.
Portugal............... 1.11 metre.
Vat.................. Holland................ 1 hectolitre.
Vedro................ Russia................. 2.7056 gallons = 10 schtoffs, or 12.3 litres.
Bulgaria............... 2.8 litres.
Verchok............. Russia................ 1.75 inch.
Versta, or Verst..... Russia................. 0.66288 mile.
Vierkanteroede....... Holland................ 1 metric are.
Viertel.............. Denmark................ 1.7 gallon.
Switzerland............ 15 litres.
Viss................. Rangoon................ 3+(91/140) lb av.
Wa................... Siam................... 80 inches.
Wigtje.............. Netherlands............ 1 gramme.
Wisse................ Netherlands............ 1 metric stere.
Yard................. U. States.............. 36 inches.
Mexico................. 838 centimetres.
Zac.................. Netherlands............ 1 hectolitre.
Zer (Persia). See Guz.
Zoll................. Switzerland........... 3+1/3 zoll = 1 decimetre. Old zoll nearly one inch. (See also Pfund.)
Zolotnik............. Russia................. 65.8306 grains, or 96 doli.


. . .

  1. Troisihne Conférence Genéralce des Poids et Mesures (Paris, 1901). Metric Units Com. Roy. Soc. (1898).
  2. Phil. Trans. (1892): and Proc. Roy. Soc. (1895), p. 143.
  3. Proc. Verb. Com. Intern, des Poids el Mesures (1900), p. 84. Congès International de Physique réuni à Paris en 1900.
  4. Valeur du Mètre, A.A. Michelson (Paris, 1894); Units Everett, Illustrations of c.G.S. System; Unites et Étalons, Guillaume (Paris, 1890); Lupton's Numerical Tables 1892; Metric Equivalent Cards, 1901; Dictionary of Metric Measures, L. Clark (1891); Glazebrook and Shaw's Physics (1901).
  5. Report Standards Commission 1870.
  6. Rapport du Yard. Dr. Benoit (1896).
  7. Orders in Council (1894).
  8. Wissenschaftliche Abhandlungen der Physikalischen Reichsanstalt. Band ii. (Berlin, 1900); Denkschrift betreffend die Tätigkeit der K. Norm.-Aichungs-Kommn. (1869–1900).
  9. Treasury Committee on National Physical Laboratory, Parliamentary Paper, 1898.
  10. Descriptive List of Standards and Instruments, Parliamentary Paper, 1892.
  11. Report on Standards deposited in House of Commons, 1st November 1891.
  12. S. Fisher. The Art Journal, August 1900.
  13. Buchanan, Ancient Scotch Standards.
  14. In the absence of the actual standards of ancient times the units of measure and of weight have to be inferred from the other remains; hence unit in this division is used for any more or less closely defined amount of length or weight in terms of which matter was measured.
  15. These figures refer to the authorities at the end of this section.
  16. Relative to the uncertain connection of length, capacity and weight in the ancient metro logical systems of the East, Sir Charles Warren, R.E., has obtained by deductive analysis a new equivalent of the original cubit (Palestine Exploration Fund Quarterly, April, July, October 1899). He shows that the length of the cubit arose through the weights; that is to say, the original cubit of Egypt was based on the cubic double—cubit of water—and from this the several nations branched off with their measures and weights. For the length of the building cubit Sir C. Warren has deduced a length equivalent to 20.6109 English inches, which compares with a mean Pyramid cubit of 20.6015 in. as hitherto found. By taking all the ancient cubits, there appears to be a remarkable coincidence throughout with 20.6109 in.

    Sir C. Warren has derived a primitive unit from a proportion of the human body, by ascertaining the probable mean height of the ancient people in Egypt, and so thereby has derived a standard from the stature of man. The human body has furnished the earliest measure for many races (H. O. Arnold-Forster, The Coming of the Kilogram, 1898), as the foot, palm, hand, digit, nail, pace, ell (ulna), &c. It seems probable, therefore, that a royal cubit may have been derived from some kingly stature, and its length perpetuated in the ancient buildings of Egypt, as the Great Pyramid, &c.

    So far this later research appears to confirm the opinion of Bockh (2) that fundamental units of measure were at one time derived from weights and capacities. It is curious, however, to find that an ancient nation of the East, so wise in geometrical proportions, should have followed what by modern experience may be regarded as an inverse method, that of obtaining a unit of length by deducing it through weights and cubic measure, rather than by deriving cubic measure through the unit of length.

  17. 1
  18. 4