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Ancient weights and measures

 

This page about weights and measures will give you an idea what a Roman or Greek author is talking about when he e.g. mentions a distance of 5 stadia. Greek authors, of course, used Greek measurements that sometimes even with the same name significantly differ from the Roman. But even the Greek measurement could differ from place to place. These tables are meant to give a rough idea of the ancient weights and measures and come in handy when reading an ancient author.

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Length Surface Weight Content Currency

 

Length


Roman Greek
Unit Pes Meter −−−−−− Unit Pous (pl.:podes) Meter
digitus 1/16 0.0185 −−−−−− dactilos 1/16 0.0185
uncia 1/12 0.0246 −−−−−− kondylos 1/8 0.037
palmus 1/4 0.074 −−−−−− palaiste 1/4 0.074
pes 1 0.296 −−−−−− Pous 1 0.296
cubitus 1,5 0.444 −−−−−− pechys 1,5 0.444
gradus 2 1/2 0.74 −−−−−− pechys basileios 1,7 0.50
passus 5 1,48 −−−−−− diploun bema 5 1,48
pertica 10 2,96 −−−−−− akaina 10 2,96
actus 120 35,5 −−−−−− plethron 100 29,6
stadium 625 185 −−−−−− stadion 600 185
mille (passuum) 5000 1480 −−−−−− diaulos 1200 370
leuga 7500 2222.5 −−−−−− dolichos 7200 2220


Surface

Top
Unit Actus Meter²
pes quadratus
1/14400 0.0876
scripulum 1/144 8.76
actus minimus
1/30 42
clima 1/4 315
actus quadratus
1
1260
iugerum 2
2520
heredium
4
5040
centurium 400
540000
saltus
1600
2016000


Content

TopRoman Greek
Unit Sextarius Liter −−−−−− Unit Cotyla Liter
ligula 1/30 0.0112 −−−−−−
cyatus 1/12 0.045 −−−−−−
sextans 1/6 0.09 −−−−−−
triens 1/3 0.18 −−−−−−
hemina 1/2 0.27 −−−−−− cotyla 1 0.276
choenix 2/3 0.36 −−−−−− hemichous 6 1.66
sextarius 1 0.54 −−−−−−
congius 6 3.25 −−−−−− chous 12 3.32
urna 24 13 −−−−−−
amphora 48 26 −−−−−− metretes 144 38,45
culleus 960 520 −−−−−−


Weight


TopRoman Greek
Unit Drachma Gram −−−−−− Unit Drachma Gram
chalcus 1/48 0.07 −−−−−−
siliqua 1/18 0.19 −−−−−−
obulus 1/6 0.57 −−−−−− 1/6 obol 0.72
scrupulum 1/3 1.14 −−−−−−
drachma 1 3.4 −−−−−− drachma 1 4,3
silicius 2 6.82 −−−−−−
uncia 8 27.26 −−−−−−
libra 96 327.17 −−−−−− mina 100 431
mina 128 436.225 −−−−−− talent 6000 25.86


Currency in the republic


Top Roman Greek
Coin As −−−−−− Coin Obol
denarius 10 −−−−−− obol 0.56g silver
sestertius 2 1/2 −−−−−− drachma 6
dupondius 2 −−−−−− mina 600
as 1 −−−−−− talent 3600
demis 1/2 −−−−−−
driens 1/3 −−−−−−
duadrans 1/4 −−−−−−
quinconx 5/12 −−−−−−

An As was initially one pound of copper even before the introduction of coins.
In the centuries to follow the amount of copper in an As was diminished time and again
a Roman talent was about 32.3kg of silver
a Greek talent about 26 kg of silver or 6000 drachmae

Roman coinsAltes museum Berlin

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