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Return ton Numbers & Metrology in the 1st millennium
Neo Babylonian weights and measures
Sources: For the late Babylonian period, a large account of tablets have been excavated in main cities of the southern Mesopotamia (Babylon, Borsippa, Kiš, Nippur, Sippar, Ur, Uruk, etc). For the period which provided the bulk of the material (from the rising of the Chaldean dynasty during the late 7^{th} B.C. to the early 5^{th} B.C. when Babylonia revolted against Xerxes) around 19 000 texts are directly available for scholars, and many more tablets remain unpublished. Most of them records economical operations of private businessmen or Babylonians' temples and widely refer to various measures of weight, capacity, and length.
Bibliography:
For a detailed treatment of metrology during late Babylonian period see :
- Powell, M. A. 1984: “Late-Babylonian Surface Mensuration”, AfO 31, p. 32-66.
- Powell, M. A. 1990: “Masse und Gewichte”, RlA 7, Berlin, New York, p. 457-517
For summarized versions, see:
- Wunsch, C.: Das Egibi-Archiv. I. Die Felder und Gärten. Cuneiform Monographs, vol. 20 a and b, Groningen, STYX, p. xix-xx.
- Baker, H.: The Archive of the Nappāḫu Family. AfO, Beiheft 30, Vienne, p. ix-x..
- Jursa, M.: Neo-Babylonian Legal and Administrative Documents: Typology, Content and Archives. GMTR 1, Münster, 2005, p. 19, 28, 41.
Metrological systems:
Units of weight
gin_{2} | šiqlu | 8,33 g. | |
↓ × 60 | |||
ma-na | manû | 500 g. | |
↓ × 60 | |||
gun | biltu | 30 kg. |
Units of capacities
GAR | - | 1/10 l. | |
↓ × 10 | |||
sila_{3} | qa | 1 l. | |
↓ × 6 | |||
ban_{2}^{1)} | sūtu | 6 l. | |
↓ × 6 | |||
PI (6 ban_{2}) | pānu | 36 l. | |
↓ × 5 | |||
gur | kurru | 180 l. |
Capacity measures are expressed using positional notation^{2)}.
Units of length
šu-si | ubânû | 1/24 cubit | c. 0.0208 m. | |
↓ × 24 | ||||
kuš_{3} | ammatu | 1 cubit | c. 0.5 m. | |
↓ × 7 | ||||
gi | qânu | 7 cubits | c. 3.5 m. | |
↓ × 2 | ||||
GAR | - | 14 cubits | c. 7 m |
Units of Superficy
Two systems were used for measuring superficies in Late Babylonia : The reed system used for smaller areas,especially urban plots, and the seed system used for larger areas.
- The reed system
šu-si | ubânû | 168 sq. fingers | c. 0.0729 m^{2} | |
↓ × 24 | ||||
kuš_{3} | ammatu | 7 sq. cubits | c. 1.75 m^{2} | |
↓ × 7 | ||||
gi | qânu | 49 sq. cubits | c. 12.25 m^{2} | |
↓ × 2 | ||||
GAR | - | 98 sq. cubits | c. 24.5 m^{2} |
- The seed system
GAR | - | 30 sq. cubits | c. 7.5 m^{2} | |
↓ × 10 | ||||
sila_{3} | qa | 300 sq. cubits | c. 75 m^{2} | |
↓ × 6 | ||||
ban_{2} | sūtu | 1800 sq. cubits | c. 450 m^{2} | |
x 6 ⇒ | ||||
PI (6 ban_{2}) | pānu | 10800 sq. cubits | c. 2700 m^{2} | |
↓ × 5 | ||||
gur | kurru | 64000 sq. cubits | c. 13500 m^{2} |