Roman Weights and Measures

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Roman Weights and Measures - The Measures in Length
The Measures of Length in use among the Romans were, Millarium or Mille, a mile—each mile contained 8 Stadia, or furlongs—each Stadium, 125 Passus—each Pace, 5 feet. A Roman mile was 5000 feet (1524 meters). The Roman mile originates from the Latin word 'Mille' meaning a thousand. A Roman mile was the distance a Roman legion could march in 1000 paces which was equivalent to 2000 steps.

The Modern mile is longer - 8 furlongs, 80 chains, 320 rods, 1760 yards or 5280 feet.

The Pes, or foot, was variously divided. It contained 4 Palmi or handbreadths, each of which was therefore 3 inches long—and it contained 16 Digiti, or finger breadths, each of which was therefore three-quarters of an inch long—and it contained 12 Unciae, or inches: any number of which was used to signify the same number of ounces.

Cubitus, a cubit, was 1½ feet long—Pollex, a thumb's breadth, 1 inch—Palmipes, a foot and hand's breadth, i.e. 15 inches long—Pertica, a perch, 10 feet long—the lesser Actus was a space of ground 120 feet long by four broad—the greater Actus was 120 feet square—two square Actus made a Jugerum, or acre, which contained therefore 28,000 square feet. 

Roman Weights and Measures - The Pound
The principal Weight in use among the Romans, was the pound, called As or Libra, which was equal to 12 oz. avoirdupoise, or 16 oz. It was divided into twelve ounces, the names of which were as follow:

  • Uncia, 1 oz
  • Sextans, 2 oz
  • Triens, 3 oz
  • Quadrans, 4 oz
  • Quincunx, 5 oz
  • Septunx, 7 oz
  • Bes, 8 oz
  • Dodrans, 9 oz
  • Dextans, 10 oz
  • Deunx, 11 oz.

The As and its divisions were applied to anything divided into twelve parts, as well as to a pound weight. The twelfth part of an acre was called Uncia and half a foot, Semis etc.

Roman Weights and Measures - Dry Weights
The Measures for Dry Weights

  • Modius, a peck
  • Semimodius, a gallon—Sextanus, a pint—Hemina, one-half pint, and 3 smaller measures, for which we have not equivalent names in English
  • One Modius contained 2 Semimodii
  • each Semimodius contained 8 Sextarii
  • each Sextarius, 2 Heminae
  • each Hemina, 4 Acetabula
  • each Acetabulum, 1½ Cyathi
  • each Cyathus, 4 Ligulae.
  • Dodrans, 9 oz

Roman Weights and Measures - Liquid Measures
The Liquid Measures of Capacity were the Culeus, which was equal to 144½ gallons—it contained 20 Amphorae or Quadrantales—each Amphora, 2 Urnae—each Urna, 4 Congii—each Congius, 6 Sextarii—and each Sextarius, 2 Quartarii or naggins—each Quartarius, 2 Heminae—each Hemina, 3 Acetabula or glasses—each Acetabulum, 1½ Cyathi—and each Cyathus, 4 Ligulae.

Roman Weights and Measures
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