The earliest recorded systems of weights and measures originate in the 3rd or 4th millennium BC. Even the very earliest civilizations needed measurement for purposes of agriculture, construction, and trade. Early standard units might only have applied to a single community or small region, with every area developing its own standards for lengths, areas, volumes and masses. Often such systems were closely tied to one field of use, so that volume measures used, for example, for dry grains were unrelated to those for liquids, with neither bearing any particular relationship to units of length used for measuring cloth or land. With development of manufacturing technologies, and the growing importance of trade between communities and ultimately across the Earth, standardized weights and measures became critical. Starting in the 18th century, modernized, simplified and uniform systems of weights and measures were developed, with the fundamental units defined by ever more precise methods in the science of metrology. The discovery and application of electricity was one factor motivating the development of standardized internationally applicable units. Contents 1 Sources of information 2 Earliest known systems 3 History of units 3.1 Units of length 3.2 Units of mass 3.3 Units of time and angle 4 Metric conversion 5 References 6 Further reading Sources of information[edit]
components unit 12 lines 1 inch 12 inches 1 foot 3 feet 1 yard 1760 yards 1 mile 36 inches 1 yard 440 yards quarter-mile 880 yards half-mile 100 links 1 chain 10 chains 1 furlong 8 furlongs 1 mile 4 inches 1 hand 22 yards 1 chain 5.5 yards 1 rod, pole or perch 4 poles 1 chain 40 poles 1 furlong Units of mass[edit]
The grain was the earliest unit of mass and is the smallest unit in
the apothecary, avoirdupois, Tower, and troy systems. The early unit
was a grain of wheat or barleycorn used to weigh the precious metals
silver and gold. Larger units preserved in stone standards were
developed that were used as both units of mass and of monetary
currency. The pound was derived from the mina used by ancient
civilizations. A smaller unit was the shekel, and a larger unit was
the talent. The magnitude of these units varied from place to place.
The Babylonians and Sumerians had a system in which there were 60
shekels in a mina and 60 minas in a talent. The Roman talent consisted
of 100 libra (pound) which were smaller in magnitude than the mina.
The troy pound (~373.2 g) used in England and the United States for
monetary purposes, like the Roman pound, was divided into 12 ounces,
but the Roman uncia (ounce) was smaller. The carat is a unit for
measuring gemstones that had its origin in the carob seed, which later
was standardized at 1/144 ounce and then 0.2 gram.
Goods of commerce were originally traded by number or volume. When
weighing of goods began, units of mass based on a volume of grain or
water were developed. The diverse magnitudes of units having the same
name, which still appear today in our dry and liquid measures, could
have arisen from the various commodities traded. The larger
avoirdupois pound for goods of commerce might have been based on
volume of water which has a higher bulk density than grain.
The stone, quarter, hundredweight, and ton were larger units of mass
used in Britain. Today only the stone continues in customary use for
measuring personal body weight. The present stone is 14 pounds
(~6.35 kg), but an earlier unit appears to have been 16 pounds
(~7.25 kg). The other units were multiples of 2, 8, and 160 times
the stone, or 28, 112, and 2240 pounds (~12.7 kg, 50.8 kg,
1016 kg), respectively. The hundredweight was approximately equal
to two talents. The ton of 2240 pounds is called the "long ton". The
"short ton" is equal to 2000 pounds (~907 kg). A tonne (t) is
equal to 1000 kg.
Units of time and angle[edit]
The division of the circle into 360 degrees and the day into hours,
minutes, and seconds can be traced to the Babylonians who had
sexagesimal system of numbers. The 360 degrees may have been related
to a year of 360 days. Many other systems of measurement divided the
day differently -- counting hours, decimal time, etc. Other calendars
divided the year differently.
Metric conversion[edit]
Main articles:
This article incorporates public domain material from the
Further reading[edit] , Measures and Weights in the Islamic World. An English Translation of Professor Walther Hinz's Handbook “Islamische Maße und Gewichte“, with a foreword by Professor Bosworth, F.B.A. Kuala Lumpur, ISTAC, 2002, ISBN 983-9379-27-5. This work is an annotated translation of a work in German by the late German orientalist Walther Hinz, published in the Handbuch der Orientalistik, erste Abteilung, Ergänzungsband I, Heft 1, Leiden, The Netherlands: E. J. Brill, 1970. Scales and Weights: A Historical Outline, Bruno Kisch. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1965). Based in part on the Edward C. Streeter collection at Yale Medical Historical Library v t e Systems of measurement Current General
Specific Apothecaries' Avoirdupois Troy Astronomical Electrical Temperature Natural atomic geometrised Gaussian Lorentz–Heaviside Planck quantum chromodynamical Stoney Background Metric Overview Introduction Outline History Metrication UK/US Overview Comparison Foot–pound–second (FPS) Historic Metric metre–kilogram–second (MKS) metre–tonne–second (MTS) centimetre–gram–second (CGS) gravitational quadrant–eleventh-gram–second (QES) (hebdometre–undecimogramme–second (HUS)) Europe Byzantine Cornish Cypriot Czech Danish Dutch English Estonian Finnish French (Trad. • Mesures usuelles) German Greek Hungary Icelandic Irish Scottish Italian Latvia Luxembourgian Maltese Norwegian Ottoman Polish Portuguese Romanian Russian Serbian Slovak Spanish Swedish Switzerland Welsh Winchester measure Asia Afghan Cambodian Chinese Hindu Hong Kong India Indonesian Japanese Korean Mongolian Omani Philippine Pegu Singaporean Sri Lankan Syrian Taiwanese Tatar Thai Vietnamese Africa Algerian Ethiopian Egyptian Eritrean Guinean Libyan Malagasy Mauritian Moroccan Seychellois Somalian South African Tunisian Tanzanian North America Costa Rican Cuban Haitian Honduran Mexico Nicaraguan Puerto Rican South America Argentine Brazilian Chilean Colombian Paraguayan Peruvian Uruguayan Venezuelan Ancient Arabic Biblical and Talmudic Egyptian Greek Hindu Indian Mesopotamian Persian Roman List articles Humorous (FFF system) Obsolete Unusual Other |