Measurements

Michael Lahanas

Αρχαία ελληνικά μετρικά συστήματα

Part 2

The Enigma of Cleobulina the daughter of Cleobulus: A father had 12 children, and these 12 chldren had each 30 white sons and 30 black daughters which are immortal though they died every day.

Time Measurements

I will provide soon information about the units of time used by ancient Greeks. Only some funny remarks at the moment is that ancient Greeks used also in principle liquid measures for time measurements since as we know time “flows”. Using the clepsydra as a clock one could define the time by the amount of water that is required to empty a filled container with a hole in the bottom that allowed the water to escape which is approximately 4 minutes for 3 liters.

Using also the shadow length it was common for ancient Greeks to say that they will meet at a specific time that is given as the length of a shadow shown by a sundial. In Aristophanes' Ecclesiazusae, in the 4th century BC, a person says that he determines dinner time by the length of a gnomon's shadow.

SUN dials

Greek scaphe dial

The scaphe dial, probably the oldest form of sundials. Scaphe (Greek boat) a bowl-shaped cup within which the hour-lines are marked. At the time of summer solstice the shadow is shortest and falls exactly on the bottom line. In the following time the shadow grows again until it reaches the top line at the time of winter solstice. The days are divided into temporal hours. Their length is not fixed but instead the time between sunrise and sunset is divided into 12 intervals of equal length.

Universal Ring dial

Parmenio of Macedonia constructed the Philippi sundial a portable clock that was also an astronomical instrument. It was used to measure approximate latitude, azimuth and zenith in the distances of the stars. Its diameter was 7cm and a model was discovered by the Greek archaeologist Stylianos Pelekanidis in the Philippi of Macedonia in 1965. It was built in Alexandria and it is mentioned by Vitruvius who also describes other sundials (Sundials in Greece ) http://www.tmth.edu.gr/videos/sundial.ram A Real Audio Video (In Greek)

The Hemicyclium of Berosus
The Hemispherium of Aristarchus
The Discus on a Plane of Aristarchus
The Arachne of Eudoxus
The Plinthium of Scopas
The Universal Dial of Parmenio
The Universal Dial of Theodosius and Andrias
The Peliconon of Patrocles
The Cone of Dionysidorus
The Quiver of Apollonius

How Sundials Work

Digital Simulation of the Kourion Sundial

Months: 12 a- 30(or 29) days (with a periodic intercalation of a thirteenth month every 2 years )

Names of Months in Greece

Period

Attica (Month of)

Sparta

Boetia

Delphi

Crete

December-January

Gamelion
Γαμηλιών

?

Hermaios
Ερμαίος

Amalios
Αμάλιος

Agyios

January-February

Anthesterion
Ανθεστηριών

Eleusinios

Prostaterios
Προστατήριος

Bysios
Βύσιος

Dioskouros

February-March

Elaphebolion
Ελαφηβολιών

Gerastios

Agrioaios
Αγριώνιος

Theoxenios
Θεοξένιος

Theodosios

March-April

Munychion
Μουνιχιών

Artemisios

Thioyios
Θιούϊος

Endyspoetropios
Ενδυσποιτρόπιος

Pontos

April-May

Thargelion
Θαργηλιών

Delhinios

Homoloios
Ομολώϊος

Herakleios
Ηράκλειος

Rabinthios

May-June

Skirophorion
Σκιροφοριών

Fliasios

Theilouthios
Θειλούθιος

Ilaios
Ιλαίος

Hyperberetos

June-July

Hekatombion
Εκατομβαιών

Hekatombeus

Ippodromios
Ιπποδρόμιος

Apellaios
Απελλαίος

Nekysios

July-August

Metageitnion
Μεταγειτνιών

Karneios

Panamos
Πάναμος

Boukatios
Βουκάτιος

Basileios

August-September

Boedromion
Βοηδρομιών

Panamos

Pamboiotios
Παμβοιώτιος

Boathoos
Βοαθόος

Thersmofhorion

September-October

Pyanepsion
Πυανεψιών

Herasios

Damatrios
Δαμάτριος

Heraios
Ηραίος

Hermaios

October-November

Maimakterion
Μαιμακτηριών

Apellaios

Alalkomenios
Αλαλκομένιος

Daidophorios
Δαδαφόριος

Metarhios

November-December

Poseidon
Ποσειδεών

Diosthios

Boukatios
Βουκάτιος

Poetropios
Ποιτρόπιος

Eiman

Plutarch discusses the etymology of the Delphic name Bysios. He concludes that it is derived from Pythios (Apollo). He was born the 7th Bysios and it was only this one day of the year where the Oracle of Delphi answered questions (at least in the early days according to Alexandrides and Callisthenes).. Later the Oracle answered questions every month (I guess for financial reasons)

Month

Rhodes

Epidaurus

Macedonia

Delos

Bithynia

December-January

Pedageitnios

Posidaios
Ποσίδαιος

Audnaios

Αυδναίος or Αυδηναίος

Lenaion

Herakleios

January-February

Badromios

Artamitios
Αρταμίτιος

Peritios

Περίτιος

Hieros

Dios

February-March

Sminthios

Agrianios
Αριάνιος

Dystros

Δύστρος

Galaxion

Vendidaios

March-April

Artamitios

Panamos
Πάναμος

Xanthikos (1)

Ξανδικός or Ξανθικός

+

6 times every in a 19-years cycle included

Xandikos Embolimos,

Ξανδικός Εμβόλιμος )

Artemision

Strateios

April-May

Agrianios

Kyklios
Κύκλιος

Artemisios

Αρτεμίσιος or Αρταμίτιος

Thargelion

Periepios

May-June

Hyakinthios

Apellaios
Απελλαίος

Daisios

Δαίσιος

Panamos

Areios

June-July

Panemos

Azosios
Αζόσιος

Panemos

Πάνημος or Πάναμος

Hekatombaion

Afrodisios

July-August

Karneios

Karneios
Καρνείος

Loios

Λώιος

Metageitnion

Dimitrios

August-September

Dalios

Proratios
Προράτιος

Gorpaios

Γορπιαίος

Bouphonion

Heraios

September-October

Thesmophorios

Hermaios
Ερμαίος

Hyperberetaios

Υπερβερεταίος

+ every 19 years additional month

Hyperberetaios Embolimos

Υπερβερεταίος Εμβόλιμος

Apatourion

Hermaios

October-November

Diosthyos

Gamios
Γάμιος

Dios

Δίος

Aresion

Mitroos

November-December

Theudaisios

Teleos
Τέλεος

Apellaios

Απελλαίος

Poseideon

Dionysios

(1) Festival Xanthika


Month

Cyprus

Sicily

Milet

Aetolia

December-January

Kaisarios

Agrianeios

Lenaion
Ληναιών

Euthiaios
Ευθυαίος

January-February

Sebastos

?

Anthesterion
Ανθεστηριών

Homoloios
Ομολώϊος

February-March

Autokratorikos

Theudasios

Artemision
Αρτεμισιών

Hermaios
Ερμαίος

March-April

Dimarhexousios

Artamitios

Taureon
Ταυρεών

Dionysios
Διονύσιος

April-May

Plithipatos

?

Thargelion
Θαργηλιών

Agyieos
Αγύειος

May-June

Arhiereus

Badromios

Kalamaion
Καλαμαιών

Hippodromios
Ιπποδρόμιος

June-July

Esthios

Yakinthios

Panemos
Πάνημος

Laphraios
Λαφριαίος?

July-August

Romaios

Karneios

Metageitnion
Μεταγειτνιών

Paaamos
Πάναμος

August-September

Afrodisios

Panamos

Boedromion
Βοηδρομιών

Prokuklios
Προκύκλιος

September-October

Apogonikos

Thesmoforos

Pyanopsion
Πυανοψιών

Athanaios
Αθαναίος

October-November

Ainikos

Dalios

Apatourion
Απατουριών

Boukatios
Βουκάτιος

November-December

Ioulios

?

Poseideon
Ποσειδεών

Dios
Θυίος?

The intercalary month usually came after Poseidon, and was called second Poseidon. For Athens the summer was the start of the year (the Hekatombion), other Greek cities states used a different start for their year (e.g., Sparta and Macedonia in fall, Delos in the winter). Changes by Meton to correct for the problem that this system has 750 days in 2 years compared to our 730 days today. The names of this list marked in red are from a Greek book which probably contains erroneously a shift of one month (for example using Plutarch's information about Alalkomenios that is the analog of Maimakterion in Attica ) and are used only to give an idea of the names used in various Greek cities. The most certain calendar is that of Athens. I cannot imagine how such a system could work today if we used also local names for the months. http://www.polysyllabic.com/Greek.html

The first day of a month is called Noumenia ( “new month”). Analyzing some sources it seems that the Greek calendar was actually more complex and different types were also used (for example the kata selenes calendar). Calenders proposed by Astronomers's such as Meton of Athens and others more accurate were not generally adopted, probably because there was no need for common people in contrast to astronomers.

Hemerologion

The Athenian Calendar from 776 BC until today and even up to the 1000th Olympiad (c. 3221 AD)

Names of Attic Months

Gamelion (Time of weddings)

Anthesterion (Flower time, flower festival)

Elaphebolion (Time of deer hunting)

Munychion (Time of the Munychian Artemis festival)

Thargelion (a festival for Apollo and Artemis)

Skirophorion (Parasol bearers festival of Athena)

Hekatombion (Time to offer the hecatombs)

Metageitnion (Time where people flit and change neighbours)

Boedromion (in memory of the conquest of the Amazons by Theseus)

Pyanepsion (from a dish of beans eaten at a festival)

Maimakterion (from Zeus Maimactes (the boisteous)

Poseidon

As Herodotus writes: I put the boundary of human life at seventy years. These seventy years have twenty-five thousand two hundred days, not counting the intercalary month; but if every other year be lengthened by a month so that the seasons come out right, these intercalary months in seventy years will be thirty-five, and the days for these months ten hundred and fifty. So that all the days of a man's life are twenty-six thousand two hundred and fifty (26250 days)...

Other Calendars

Images

Arkesilaos, king of Kyrene in North Africa, supervises the weighting of merchandise. Spartan cup of mid sixth century BC.



Links

Palamedes, The mythical Origin of Greek measurements and weight units

SURVEYING AND ENGINEERING IN ANCIENT ROME

http://www.database.com/~lemur/rb-rolling-ball.html

Ancient Egyptian Calendar

More Information about Calenders

Pheidon of Argos The 'invention' of weights: A compilation of source material

Miscellaneous

Calendopaedia

References

Robert Hannah, Greek and Roman Calendars: Constructions of Time in the Classical World. London: 2005.ISBN 0-715-63301-5.

M. J. T. Lewis, Surveying Instruments of Greece and Rome,Cambridge University Press, 2001, 410 pages, 100 figures, ISBN: 0521792975

Andrι Wegener Sleeswyk, "Vitruvius' Odometer", Scientific American October 1981

Dieter Lelgemann, Recovery of the Ancient System of Foot/Cubit/Stadion – Length Units (PDF File) with some interesting ideas about Greek units and their relation to Egyptian units and to astronomical lenghts.

Ancient Greek texts on measurement Preliminary version

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