Table of Contents
Return to Numbers & Metrology in the 1st millennium
Neo-Assyrian economic documents
Metrological system
Units of weight
Neo Assyrian weights could be dannu (heavy) or qallu (light). A dannu weight double a qallu weight.
dannu (heavy) | qallu (light) |
gin_{2} | |
ca. 17 g | ca. 8,5 g |
↓ ×60 | |
ma-na^{1)} | |
ca. 1,01 kg | ca. 505 g |
↓× 60 | |
gú-(un) ^{2)} | |
60,6 kg | 30,3 kg |
Since Neo Assyrian scribes ordinary did not use units smaller than the shekel, fractions were employed (cf. below ‘fractions’). In the first one, horizontal wedges were used for the denominator preceded, if needed, by vertical wedges for the numerator. Thus, “1/4 gín” was written with four horizontal wedges (SIGNE17), while “3/4 gín” was written with three normal verticals and four horizontals wedges (SIGNE17bis). In the second system, fractions were noted classically (see “fractions” below).
When fractions are used without precision about the unit, the mina is generally meant.
Units of capacity
silà, qû | 1,84 l. | |
↓ ×10 | ||
bán, sūtu^{3)} | ^{4)} | 18,40 l. |
↓ ×10 | ||
imēru | - | 184 l. |
There is no occurrence of a Neo Assyrian smaller than the qû so that fractions are used.
Other miscellaneous units are used, like maqarrrutu (“roll” or “bale”), ebissu (“bundle”) or pittu (“bundle”) for different kinds of dry products, and like kāsu(“cup”), šappu(“bowl”), middutu (“measure”), zikku and kuš-sal (“wineskin”) for liquids.
Units of length
šu-si, ubānu (“finger”) | ca. 2 cm | |
↓ ×12 | ||
(r)ūṭu (“1/2 cubit”) | - | ca. 24 cm |
↓ ×2 | ||
kùš, ammutu (cubit)^{5)} | SIGNE24 | ca. 48 cm |
↓ ×12^{6)} | ||
gar | - | - |
↓ ×720^{7)} | ||
uš | - | - |
↓ ×30 (× 21600 cubits) | ||
bēru | - | - |
In parallel, we find the pušku (“palm”) measuring ca. 8 cm and the unit gìr-pad-du (“bone”) measuring ca. 32 cm.
Numerical system
The Neo Assyrian numerical system follow almost the same pattern that those of all the others Akkadian texts.
1 | |
↓ × 10 | |
10 | |
↓ × 10 | |
(1 me) | 100 |
However, few special writings exist:
- From at least the middle Assyrian times, the number 9 () can be abbreviated this way: .
- The number 8 () can also be writing: SIGNE7.
- 60 is generally written SIGNE8 or SIGNE9, except for when he's followed by a 10-sign (70, 80 …).
Fractions
1/2 | 1/3 | 2/3 | 5/6 |
Cardinal numbers with a syllabic complement (4-tu = 1/4, 5-su= 1/5, 6-su= 1/8 …) are used for the writing of other fractions, and sometimes for 1/3 (3-suor 3-si).
Bibliography
- Postgate J.N. (1976). Fifty Neo-Assyrian Legal Documents. Warminster: Aris & Phillips. p.63-72.
- Powell M.A. (1990. “Masse und Gewichte”, RlA 7, Berlin, New York, p. 457-517