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Ethiopian units of measurement

A common unit of weight in Ethiopia was the load - a simple measure of the amount carried by a beast of burden such as a camel [1]

A number of different units of measurement have been used in Ethiopia. The values of the most of these units are not well defined.[2] In 1963, Ethiopia adopted the metric system.[3]

Pre-metric era

These units have also been referred to as Abyssinian units of measurements.

Length

Different units were used to measure length.[2][4] Values provided below are approximations only as these units were often not well-defined.[2]

1 pic = 0.686 metres

1 farsang = 5070 m

1 berri = ​13 farsang (approx. 3 pics)

Mass

A number of units were used to measure mass. One rottolo is approximately equal to 0.311 kilograms. Some other units are provided below.[2][4]

1 drachm = ​1120 rotto

1 derime = ​1120 rotto

1 wakea (ounce) = ​112 rotto

1 mocha = ​110 rotto

Capacity

Two types of measuring system were used, one for dry measures and one for liquid measures.

Dry

Different units were used to measure dry capacities. One madega is approximately equal to 0.44 litres.[2][4]

1 ardeb = 10 or 24 madega (these may sometimes be referred to as either the long ardeb, equal to 24 madega or the short ardeb, equal to 10 madega)[4]

Liquids

The kuba is approximately equal to 1.016 litres.[2]

Household units

More than 70 different units are used in an ordinary household. Some of the more important units used are kilograms, kunna, medeb, esir, bobo, pieces, litres, tassa, kubaya, birchiko, sini, bottles, guchiye, sahen and weket.[5]

Details for some of the common units of measurements are given below:[6]

  • Medeb: meaning "heap", can be large or small, and is mainly used for vegetables.
  • Tassa: A large serving can (often for cereals, pulses and liquids).
  • Sini: A small ceramic cup often used for coffee, pulses (e.g. oilseeds) and spices.
  • Birchiko: A glass often for pulses and liquids
  • Kubaya: A mug, often for cereals, pulses and liquids.
  • Esir: A "bundle" often used for cabbage and chat (a mild stimulant)
  • Tikil: A wrap often for sugar and coffee.

References

  1. ^ Pankhurst 1970, p. 45.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Washburn, E.W. (1926). International Critical Tables of Numerical Data, Physics, Chemistry and Technology. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc. p. 2.
  3. ^ Cardarelli, F. (2003). Encyclopaedia of Scientific Units, Weights and Measures. Their SI Equivalences and Origins. London: Springer. p. 7. ISBN 978-1-4471-1122-1.
  4. ^ a b c d Cardarelli, F. (2003). Encyclopaedia of Scientific Units, Weights and Measures. Their SI Equivalences and Origins. London: Springer. p. 130. ISBN 978-1-4471-1122-1.
  5. ^ Capeau, B.; Dercon, S. (1998), Prices, local measurement units and subsistence consumption in rural surveys: an econometric approach with an application to Ethiopia, Oxford: Institute of Economics and Statistics
  6. ^ Disney, R.; Mamo, A.; McKay, A. (8 November 2001), Local measure, quality effects and estimation of demand elasticities in urban Ethiopia, Nottingham: University of Nottingham

Further reading

  • Pankhurst, Richard (1969), "A preliminary history of Ethiopian measures, weights and values (part 1)", Journal of Ethiopian Studies, vol. 7 (1): 31–54
  • Pankhurst, Richard (1969), "A preliminary history of Ethiopian measures, weights and values (part 2)", Journal of Ethiopian Studies, vol. 7 (2): 99–164
  • Pankhurst, Richard (1970), "A preliminary history of Ethiopian measures, weights and values (part 3)", Journal of Ethiopian Studies, vol. 8 (1): 45–86