The stadion (Greek: στάδιον;^{[1]}Latin: stadium), formerly also anglicized as stade, was an ancient Greekunit of length, based on the circumference of a typical sports stadium of the time. According to Herodotus, one stadion was equal to 600 Greek feet (podes). However, the length of the foot varied in different parts of the Greek world, and the length of the stadion has been the subject of argument and hypothesis for hundreds of years.^{[2]}^{[3]} Various hypothetical equivalent lengths have been proposed, and some have been named.^{[4]} Among them are:
Stade name
Length (approximate)
Description
Proposed by
metres
yards
Itinerary
157 m
172 yd
used in measuring the distance of a journey.^{[5]}
Otto Cuntz, 1923;^{[4]}^{[7]} D.R. Dicks, 1960^{[3]}^{[8]}
Babylonian-Persian
196 m
214 yd
600 × 327 mm
Lehmann-Haupt, 1929^{[4]}^{[6]}
Phoenician-Egyptian
209 m
229 yd
600 × 349 mm
Lehmann-Haupt, 1929^{[4]}^{[6]}
An empirical determination of the length of the stadion was made by Lev Vasilevich Firsov, who compared 81 distances given by Eratosthenes and Strabo with the straight-line distances measured by modern methods, and averaged the results. He obtained a result of about 157.7 metres (172.5 yd).^{[2]}
Which measure of the stadion is used can affect the interpretation of ancient texts. For example, the error in the calculation of the Earth's circumference by Eratosthenes^{[9]} or Posidonius is dependent on which stadion is chosen to be appropriate.