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Lecture:Technologies of Ancient Greek Metrology

Lecture:Technologies of Ancient Greek Metrology



Greek measures, weights, and balances were an important aspect of a largely commercial active society. The control of such daily life tools was verified by the polis authorities. The making of a measure’s standard was a matter of scientific calculation that was popularized via a model or an inscription displayed in public spaces in the polis. In this lecture, two case studies will be examined: a Thasian inscription specifying the dimension of a specific measure of liquids metron and a measuring table from the Cyrenaica Agora displaying three different standards of the foot unit, Roman, Attic, and Ptolemaic, indicating conversion technologies.

Greek balances, as elsewhere, began their life very simple and manual, but in course of time, they became more mechanically developed. A central scientific work is the Mechanical Problems: Μηχανικά attributed to Aristotle, which is the cornerstone of a Greek balance based on the lever techniques and anticipate the Statera Romana. The chain of development was likely via a transitional balance known as  Statera Campana and the Greek influence of Magna Graecia.


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