ACADEMIA Letters

Ancient Measurement an Abstract

(The Meter is 5000 years old)

Background

Roland Boucher

In the 1960s while working in the Hughes Aircraft Satellite Division, I was involved in demon- strating satellite communications to the airline industry when NASA began asking for reports in the metric system. It was not used in the aviation industry at that time.

This demand caused a number of us to study the history of the metric system. We found that in the sixteenth century, Queen Elizabeth I, introduced the British Imperial System and about seventy years later, the French introduced their pendulum-derived metric system. I will never forget the length of their new yard (meter). It was 993.7 millimeters. Fifty-five years later, when studying ancient Sumerian standards of measure, I found a yard that was exactly 993.7 millimeters long.The obvious question was: did the Sumerians develop these standards using a pendulum? I had to find out. This report describes some of what was discovered.

History

In 1671 the Frenchman, Jean Picard proposed a measurement system where a pendulum op- erated at 45 degrees north latitude with a beat (half period) of one second would establish the length of the new standard French yard to be called a meter. This meter would be subdivided into 100 centimeters and 1,000 millimeters.

The standard of volume to be called a liter would be established as the volume of a 10 centimeter cube. This liter could be considered the volume of 1,000 cubic centimeters, or

Academia Letters, July 2021 ©2021 by the author — Open Access — Distributed under CC BY 4.0

Corresponding Author: Roland Boucher, rolandfly@sbcglobal.net

Citation: Boucher, R. (2021). Ancient Measurement an Abstract (The Meter is 5000 year old). Academia Letters, Article 1756.

1

1/1000 cubic meter. The standard of weight would be established as the weight of one liter of water at the temperature of maximum water density of approximately degrees Celsius.

Five thousand years earlier, the Sumerians would develop exactly the same standard length to be called a step and the same standard volume to be called a sila. The weight of half-sila of water at room temperature would become the mina. When the French invented the metric system, it was already five thousand years old.

The Sumerian rules used to convert a standard of length to one of volume and weight were identical to the French proposal. They would be used for five thousand years until Queen Elizabeth I, chose to change the rules in the sixteenth century.

Proof that these ancient standards of length were pendulum-derived is not always as easy as comparing pendulum-derived length to an ancient standard of length. In some cases, the only standards that remain today are those of volume or weight. Fortunately, ancient standards of volume were derived directly from the cube of a linear dimension. Standards of weight, in turn, were derived from the weight of a standard volume of water at room temperature. In some cultures, standards of weight existed for a variety of grains as well; however, a standard using water was always established.

While there may be thousands of ancient weights in museums throughout the world, we were fortunate to have available a list of seventy-four weight certified to be “standards of the land” by Dr. Marvin Adell Powell Jr. in his doctoral thesis at the University of Minnesota (1971). Later in our study, we would add weights certified by A. E. Berriman O.B E. in Histor- ical Metrology (1953) and weights reported by Sir Arthur J. Evans an article, “Minoan weights and mediums of currency (1953) from Crete, Mycenae and Cyprus,” in Corolla Numismatica, published by Oxford University Press.

In order to establish the length of a pendulum as an official standard, the Sumerians would have been required to establish accurate and reproducible intervals of time. Fortunately, the Sumerians were expert astronomers and would have had no trouble establishing intervals of time based on the motion of the Moon, Sun, and Stars, as well as the motion of the planet Venus.

The time interval for the full moon to travel one diameter in the night sky at apogee is a little over 121 seconds.

This time interval was used to establish what I called the lunar standard of Lagash. The Sumerians used a sexagesimal system of mathematics and had divided the circle into 360 parts, which we call degrees. The time interval for the Sun to travel one degree in the sky is four minutes, or 240 seconds, which was used to develop the solar standard of Ur. A Star appears to travel a little faster and the planet Venus a little slower.

A Star was used to develop the Egyptian foot while Venus was used to establish the Minoan Academia Letters, July 2021 ©2021 by the author — Open Access — Distributed under CC BY 4.0

Corresponding Author: Roland Boucher, rolandfly@sbcglobal.net

Citation: Boucher, R. (2021). Ancient Measurement an Abstract (The Meter is 5000 year old). Academia Letters, Article 1756.

2

foot.

We found that the Sumerians in Lagash had discovered that their cable of 360 steps, or

yards, was a little longer than the length 1/360 of a degree on the polar circumference of the Earth. They made three attempts to adjust the length of their cable of 360 steps to be equal to 1/360 of a degree on the polar circumference. The length of this cable would establish the length of 1,000 new geodetic feet.

These concepts spread throughout the Ancient World from Britain in the West to China and Japan in the East.

I speak of the Lunar Standard of Lagash whose foot became the Anglo Saxon foot and Furlong. 1/660 furlong then became the British Imperial (US) foot.

And the third Geodetic Standard of Lagash whose length may have been used to design the great pyramid at Giza, and whose pound became the British Imperial (US) pound.

If you don’t believe this, prove it to yourself. Calculate the size of a 64 pound cube of water and multiply the length of one edge by 1000 x 360 x 360. The results will be the polar circumference of the Earth..

In Conclusion

We have established the method by which nine Ancient Systems of Measure were determined which can be precisely reproduced today. We also revealed a number of discoveries which were quite unexpected. In Addition we feel that the method used to accurately recreate mea- surement standards from the distant past is an important contribution to the history of metrol- ogy. It may be equally important to the history of Science that this book demonstrates the firm grasp of mathematics and physics held by these ancient civilization long before the written word.

References

Ancient Measurements, a book published by Archway press and available through: Archway, Amazon or ABE books. ancinentmeasurement.com

rolandboucher.com

Academia Letters, July 2021 ©2021 by the author — Open Access — Distributed under CC BY 4.0

Corresponding Author: Roland Boucher, rolandfly@sbcglobal.net

Citation: Boucher, R. (2021). Ancient Measurement an Abstract (The Meter is 5000 year old). Academia Letters, Article 1756.

3