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Persian units of measurement

An official system of weights and measures was established[citation needed] in the ancient Persian Empire under the Achaemenid dynasty (550-350 BCE). The shekel and mina ("profane" or "sacred") were units of both weight and volume. A shekel or mina weight was equal to the weight of that volume of water. The talent was a measure of weight used for large amounts of coinage. Some related units were used in Persia in the 19th century, and are still used in contemporary Iran.


Ancient Persian units

Length

Persian unit Persian name Relation to previous unit Metric Value Imperial Value
digit
finger
انگشت (angosht)[1] ≈ 20 mm[citation needed] ≈ 0.8 in
hand dva 5 aiwas ≈ 100 mm[citation needed] ≈ 4 in
foot trayas 3 dva ≈ 300 mm[citation needed] ≈ 1 foot
four-hands remen 4 dva ≈ 400 mm[citation needed] ≈ 16 in
cubit (five-hands) pank'a dva 5 dva ≈ 500 mm[citation needed] ≈ 20 in
great cubit (six-hands) (k)swacsh dva 6 dva ≈ 600 mm[citation needed] ≈ 2 ft
pace pank'a 5 trayas ≈ 1.5 m[citation needed] ≈ 5 ft[citation needed]
ten-foot daca trayas pank'a ≈ 3 m[citation needed] ≈ 10 ft
hundred-foot chebel 8 daca trayas ≈ 24 m[citation needed] ≈ 80 ft
league, the distance a horse could walk in one hour.[citation needed] parasang 250 chebel ≈ 6 km[citation needed] ≈ 3.75 miles[citation needed]
mansion, one day's march on the Royal Road. (Greek stathmos) 4 or 5 parasang ≈ 24–30 km ≈ 14–18 miles
Asparsa Asparsa[2][3][4] ≈ 187–195 m and = 360 cubits

Volume

The shekel and mina ("profane" or "sacred") were units of both weight and volume. A shekel or mina weight was equal to the weight of that volume of water. Note that the values given for the mina do not match the definitions.

1 shekel = 8.3 ml (approximately 1 cubic aiwas).
1 profane mina = 50 shekel = 500 ml (approximately 27 cubic aiwas).
1 sacred mina = 60 shekel = 600 ml (approximately 1 cubic dva).
1 talent (volume) = 60 profane mina = 25 liters (approximately 1 cubic trayas).

Weight

The talent was a measure of weight used for large amounts of coinage (bullion, bulk coin), rather than an individual coin. Seven Babylonian talents equalled ten Attic talents, according to a list of the revenues of Cyrus the Great (Cyrus II of Persia) recorded in Herodotus.[5][6]

𐎣𐎼𐏁 (karša) or 𐎣𐎼𐏁𐎹𐎠 (karšayā) is a unit of weight equal to 10 Babylonian shekels or ​16 Babylonian mina weighing approximately 83 g (2.9 oz).[7]

Units used in modern Persia (Iran)

Some related units were used in Persia in the 19th century, and are still used in contemporary Iran.

Length

1 arsani or ulna = 52-64 cm.
1 arish = 38.27 inches (97.21 cm)[8]
1 chebel = 40 arsani = 21-25 meters
1 farsang (parasang) = 6.23 km in 19th century Persia.
1 farsang = 10 km in modern Iran and Turkey.

Volume

1 chenica = 1.32 liters.

References

  1. ^ Efendi, C. (1987). Risāle-i mi’māriyye: supplements to Muqarnas, Vol. 1. Leiden: E. J. Brill. Retrieved from [1].
  2. ^ [www.smithlifescience.com]
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-08-15. Retrieved 2014-05-13.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ Measures from Antiquity and the Bible; [users.aol.com]
  5. ^ Herodotus, Book III, 90-96
  6. ^ Burn, Andrew R. (1984). Persia and the Greeks: the defence of the West, c. 546-478 BC. [London]: Duckworth. pp. 123–126. ISBN 0-7156-1765-6.
  7. ^ British Museum No. 91117 Inscribed weight; [www.britishmuseum.org]
  8. ^ Rose, Joshua (1900). Pattern Makers Assistant (9th ed.). New York: D. van Nostrand Co. p. 264.