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Why Study Metrology?

La metrologia non é scienza, é un incubo. (Metrology is not a science; it’s a nightmare). -G. De Sanctis

In 1923, Wilhelm Kubitschek, archaeologist and numismatist, author of the most comprehensive study on ancient measures of time, wrote: There are scholars such as Theodor Mommsen and Hultsch, as Dörpfeld and Nissen, who have presented the problems of metrology in a comprehensive, clarifying and self-contained form. But, because of the way it has been handled in the last decades and particularly in the last few years, metrology is today probably the most unappealing field of ancient scholarship. This is something I did not know when Angelo Segrè first introduced me to the problems of metrology in Greek papyri. I was then in my last year of secondary education, and I thought that it would be pleasant to apply my classical education to the solution of problems that for their formal rigor appealed to my personal temper. It took me many years to discover that I was engaged in a field that, within its limits, was as dangerous as the study of astronomy in the age of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation. I began to realize this only when I undertook the writing of a doctoral dissertation to be submitted to Harvard University. I had been educated in such a sacred respect for Mommsen and had such a deep personal admiration for August Böckh that, quite innocently, I could not believe that anyone could seriously impeach the validity of their method. At the University of Rome, I had become aware of the ideas held by the literary faculty, and I had been told how the teachers of ancient history, Julius Beloch, Gaetano de Sanctis, and Ettore Pais, used to talk to the students: their condemnation of the philological method, their warning against reliance on auxiliary disciplines and their scorn of the constructions of Roman law. But their utterances were mixed with such crude anti-German quips and with such offensive references to Mommsen that the students were inclined to discount them as political moods or personal peeves. In the Italian intellectual climate, even the most extreme positions can be expressed without great harm, since all ideologies are met with a degree of skepticism. It was for this reason that the erratic genius of Beloch was welcomed at the University of Rome, whereas Mommsen and Wilamowitz

had considered his ideas so dangerous for scholarship that they had prevented him from obtaining a chair in Germany. It was only when I came to America that I discovered that the principles of the Roman school of classical studies had been accepted by some outside Italy with a dogmatism that was more deep rooted, because it had become unconscious or inarticulate. In my thesis the disagreement with De Sanctis’ school was embodied in two points. One contention was that the structure of ancient systems of metrology was such that all units of weight and volume could be calculated long or short with a difference of 10 per cent; the short calculation was called in Greek inscriptionspheidolos from the verb pheidomai, ―to be chary.‖ The existence of this terminology gave rise to the construction of an imaginary character called Pheidon of Argos, a figure of great importance, because his imaginary date was used as an anchor point by ancient Greek chronographers and was used, for instance, to fix the date of the first Olympiad. The second contention was that many important Greek texts, as, for instance the Athenian decree on coinage in the Delian League, had been badly understood because of an erroneous interpretation of the phrase metra kai stathma kai nomisma (or nomos). This phrase, which is the key one in ancient metrological texts, corresponds to the phrase numero pondere mensura of Roman law and is found in important passages of the Bible and of the Talmud. It is a phrase constructed according to the principles of Semitic syntax and consists of three synonymous terms linked by an explanativevau (literally translated into Greek by kai) and conveying a single idea. I tried to present my point of view in a form as limited as possible, making as many concessions as possible to the other side. I was so discreet that I did not mention the word ―metrology‖ more than three or four times, but the disagreement about the value of my kind of research remained, and my thesis was sharply criticized from a methodological point of view. To be more exact I should say that the criticism was epistemological: it was a matter of deciding whether the Greeks or any other human beings could have thought in the way I described. In the following years I learned that this is the very essence of the debate on metrology. In this field one can rely on evidence more reliable than that usually available in ancient scholarship, and as a result there is substantial agreement among specialists about all essential points; but other scholars refuse to accept the conclusions drawn from the evidence because these do not suit their way of thinking. I had just begun to ponder the criticism of my thesis when I went to teach at the University of Chicago, and on that occasion I paid a visit to Professor Jacob Larsen. When I described to him what my interests were, he told me that metrology had been completely debunked and added that I had ―better read what’s been written on the subject in recent years.‖ This advice was not intended to be friendly, but it proved useful, because then, for the first

On a different level. which Böckh established as a formal discipline. many of which he discovered himself through his activity as a collector of ancient manuscripts. Reading all that had been written in this century was a painful process. The first. that the system developed by the Egyptians was conceived like the French metric system.time. At moments. the concept that classical culture is characterized by certain general basic ideas and that these can be best approached by the development of specialized branches of investigation. Up to the end of the nineteenth century. which. since I found myself submerged in a realm of total irrationality. with reason. Böckh was one of the figures mainly responsible for the establishment at the beginning of the nineteenth century of the concept of philologia. The achievement of these two scholars. I felt that I should abandon my research. The basic points of ancient metrology were reconstructed in the seventeenth century by two successive holders of the Saville Chair of Astronomy at Oxford. but what I found was so outrageous in terms of my values of justice and truth that I concluded I should continue it. filled with water. was such that Christian Eisenschmidt as early as 1701 could say. he relied mainly on Greek and Oriental literary sources. but his information in this area was necessarily limited. The modern study of metrology was initiated by Böckh. who amplified the work of his predecessors by taking Greek inscriptions as his main starting point. providing a solid method of investigating several topics of ancient history. that there was one single system of metrology. but I did not suspect that I had involved myself in a controversy touching upon basic issues of intellectual life. One of these branches is metrology. is the unit of weight. who also was interested in ancient metrology. Bernard had also been active as an editor of Greek inscriptions. I had pursued the study of metrology because I knew it was a promising field. Up to that time. Their work is connected with the development of the ideas of Newton. volume. generations of scholars pursued metrological investigations . John Greaves (1602-1652) and Eduard Bernard (1638-1697). Böckh stressed two main points. I began to read in chronological order all that had been written on the subject of ancient metrology. by being cubed. but it allowed me to arrive at an understanding of why a highly technical and impersonal research could meet deep-seated emotional hostility. gives the unit of volume. in that the unit of length. which had been developed in Egypt and completed in Assyria by connecting the Egyptian units of length. and weight with units of time and with angular measurements. Following the principles already formulated by Greaves. I had concentrated my attention on the works of authors whom I considered competent and responsible. that to write about metrology after Bernard was like writing the Iliad after Homer. this system was received as a unified whole by the Greeks. The second. each with its own methodology. men of extraordinary encyclopedic learning and of more than human capacity for work. since my task was overwhelming.

The Babylonians and the Egyptians would have developed their own systems beginning with the Aryan cow unit. since the author proclaimed to have introduced a new scientific method called ―inductive‖ . On the eve of the First World War. The first method required ―continuity of working and belonged to the Germanic races. and the other by which the researcher conceived a new idea. With the second method one arrived at discoveries. In 1892. his writings indicate that by this term he means a method based on intuition of what must have been the truth. He considers that it is absurd to assume that the Egyptians and the Assyrians could. the author did not like the idea that Oriental cultures could have had any influence on Greece. have had a ―scientific‖ system of measures as that described by metrologists. It is obvious that according to these methodological principles the work of Ridgeway is the expression of . William Ridgeway published his sensational work. As pointed out by reviewers. he describes the systems of currency used by several primitive societies. but in reality it is a conglomeration of hastily collected information of all origins badly put together. the invention of the ―Aryan‖ races. The Origin of Metallic Currency and Weight Standards. called the ―method of exhaustion. but it is considered sufficient to dispose of Böckh’s work. In the first lines.‖ This statement is as inaccurate as most of those that follow. Ridgeway did not bother to inquire about Böckh’s English predecessors. The archaeologist Sir William Ramsay proclaimed that there were two methods of scientific research: one. It has the pretension of great encyclopedic learning. the second method required ―ingenuity‖ and belonged to the Anglo-Saxon races. It was said that the heavy. Ridgeway proclaims that Böckh’s ―theory was undoubtedly suggested by the fact that the French Republic had established a new scientific metric system. metrology must be.‖ by which the researcher considered all possibilities before choosing one. This piece of writing was greeted by several English scholars as the fanciful work it was. where the study was born.accepting the basic structure outlined by Böckh. As a proof of this. England was possessed by an inferiority feeling in respect to German industrial and scientific achievement. But in the following years the prevailing attitude of English scholars began to change. from early times. rather. By a quirk of fate. the attack against the study of ancient metrology was launched in England. It is difficult to criticize its methodology. the argument consists in applying to highly developed cultures the anthropology of preliterate societies. whereas with the first method one could only perform useful work. this feeling of inferiority had its reflection on the field of classical studies in which many began to talk of the necessity of freeing themselves from the influence of German scholarship. technical ―German‖ method of scholarly investigation destroyed appreciation for classical works and corrupted human beings by mechanizing them. For this reason the author imagines the existence in the entire Aryan area from India to Spain of a system of metrology based on the amount of gold corresponding to the value of a cow.

a period in which he was active organizing in the United States a revolt against the alleged Germanization of scholarly techniques introduced by President Eliot of Harvard. he used these terms as empty of any content as they are in Fascist terminology. headed in Germany by Theodor Wolf. Much progress would be achieved if numismatists and metrologists would develop a respect for the achievements and the limitations of their respective fields. between individuals who think in terms of abstractions and individuals who think in terms of concrete images. engaged mostly in a speculative work that requires pencil and paper. In this situation. It must be noted that these ideas were presented by Ramsay in 1914. The metrologist. Up to 1912. has to remember huge series of numerical texts in order to be able to arrive at a synthesis. But this has not been generally so up to now. brain physiologists remark that intellectual communication between the two types may be difficult. of the Berliner Tageblatt. and must develop a feeling about them that includes a particular sense of touch. In general. is a rare occurrence.superior scholarship. pointed out experimentally by the electro-encephalograph. the numismatist must have an extraordinary memory about material objects. such as Kurt Regling and Carl Lehmann-Haupt. there is little good feeling between metrologists and numismatists. they realized that there was one field in which their scholarship was superior to the German. that the brilliant achievements in English numismatics had been made by people who were gentlemen scholars or operated in the tradition of gentlemen scholars. in which he declared that henceforth the English Empire must not be based on economic considerations but on ―faith‖ and ―moral values‖ . they considered it quite unpleasant to have to bother to learn the arithmetical technicalities of metrology. that of numismatics. this meant that English numismatists had no longer to ponder the metrological treatises written by German scholars. Plato noticed this distinction-and the resulting difficulty of mutual understanding. English numismatists thought that they could proclaim numismatics to be a field in which Englishmen had nothing to learn from the Germans. he had been a member of an AngloGerman group. As English classicists were whistling in the dark. in his essay Oxford at the Cross Roads. however. in order to be able to classify them. formed to prove that there were no basic economic conflicts between England and Germany and to further intellectual cooperation between the two countries. Ramsay’s passage to the prevailing camp of anti-Germanism was marked by the Oxford History Lecture of 1913. and the existence of a team composed of a numismatist and a metrologist. I suspect that here we deal with the distinction. This book . It is quite significant that it was the numismatist Percy Gardner who in 1903 delivered the most important appeal for the liberation of English classical studies from German influences. because their two fields infringe upon each other but require completely different skills and types of memory and imagination. It happened.

subscribed to ―Weismannism‖ and refused to accept the ideas of a friend of his who aimed at proving the inheritance of acquired characteristics. but I decided that. in their subservience to Germany. When I wrote my Harvard thesis. In the heat of nationalist passion.‖ Bernard’s primer of metrology was criticized for being hard reading. badly distorted by being combined with a . the Lysenko affair in the Soviet Union also consisted of condemning ―Weismannism‖ as ―kowtowing to foreigners‖ (inostranshchina). namely. who with Bernard had edited the Greek inscriptions of Palmyra. who claimed that some bronze ingots found in Greece represented an oxhide and had the value of a cow. Ridgeway became a hero and. It is rather significant that Ridgeway proceeds by warning Englishmen that Greek history teaches that unless they temper their democracy with some return to aristocratic institutions they risk losing the war. was elected president of the Classical Association. he took the occasion to denounce as proGerman the English scholars who had dismissed his papers as unscholarly: ―My only offence was that I had ventured to dispute what the Germans had said. As a result of the political situation. replied. of a detailed archaeological analysis of the types of utensil money used by the Greeks. I should take a constructive position. The ideas of Ridgeway continued to be accepted as truth by English numismatists even beyond 1918 and have influenced all their writings up to the most recent ones. first of all. Seltman’s Athens. I proceeded to a review of the conclusions of C. In his Presidential Address. instead of engaging in polemics. since a biographer of Bernard reports that ―his erudite pursuits rendered him an object of ridicule in gay society. This little detail proves that there is some method in this world of madness.ends with the conclusion that henceforth English ―intelligence‖ must substitute for German ―amassing and ordering of facts. Its History and Coinage. that before the reception of the system of metrology the Greeks had used utensil money such as is used by many primitive people. Therefore my thesis consisted. the defense of Ridgeway’s work became a matter of prestige for many English scholars and for numismatists in particular.‖ It seems that Oxford always had its share of Percy Gardners. a work that contains many important numismatic results. I knew that I could not achieve anything in the field of metrology unless I refuted Ridgeway’s theories. A careful perusal of Ridgeway’s work convinced me that his analysis of anthropological evidence had confusedly pointed out an important fact of Greek history. at the end of 1914. T. neque enim elementa in puerorum aut iam discere incipientium usum scripsit. On the basis of this analysis. to this Thomas Smith.‖ He then proceeded to compare the reception given to his work by respectable English scholars to the attitude of English biologists who. It has been accepted that the proof that Ridgeway failed to provide about the existence of the cow standard was provided by Arthur Evans in 1906 (Minoan Weights and Currency).

It is obvious that if I had to bow to Evans’ judgment in this matter. There he could pander to Italian nationalism by inveighing against the ―German philological method. The two founders of metrology. Another line of attack against metrology developed in the context of German and Italian scholarship. but he found a friendly reception at the University of Rome. wrote. ―Evans’ work is one of the most fantastic ones of modern metrology. I think that I can hardly hope ever to prove a case with equal assurance. had relied mainly on their extensive knowledge of rabbinical literature. the leading representative of philologia in ancient historical studies was Mommsen. who is not a friend of Böckh’s method. and Böckh had stressed the similarity between ancient metrology and the French metric system. Hence the necessity to condemn Mommsen with the entire concept of philologia. which with a great effort of imagination could be said to resemble oxhides. the French and the Jews. One of these ideas was constitutional government and the rule of law. Greaves and Bernard.‖ I did not say anything of the sort. were plain ingots of smelted metal that had that shape for metallurgical reasons. he was accused of being a spokesman for Bismarck. where some classicists had adopted Nietzsche’s motto Ceterum censeo delendam esse philologiam. I devoted a special appendix to Evans’ theory of the oxhide ingots. But those who reported on my thesis asked me how I could dare to contradict Sir Arthur Evans so blatantly. It is worth noting that at the same time French nationalists were attacking Mommsen and his type of scholarship. who was particularly obnoxious to German right-wing radicals for his courageous championing of intellectual freedom and for his opposition to intellectual chauvinism. the movement of revolt . who tried to further. I was able to point out the use of smelting techniques producing ingots of the same shape in several periods and in several parts of the world. At the end of the nineteenth century. which German ultranationalists blamed on the German reception of Roman law. I had to accept a fortiori the positions of Ridgeway and Seltman.‖ From the German Jugendbewegung. he advocated the establishment of a popular dictatorship and thought that Germany had been totally corrupted by French and Jewish ideas. In German academic circles. but through many months of patient research I was able to prove that the ingots. as an instrument of German imperialism. Beloch was a prophet before his time. The study of Roman law was also linked at the moment with the name of Mommsen. Beloch’s main passion was politics. Heinrich Willers. In the field of ancient history this movement of revolt found its expression in Beloch. under whose rule he was actually brought to trial.total acceptance of Ridgeway’s theories. Metrology was a clear embodiment of the evils of the philological method. the study of Roman law and metrology. in particular. This clearly proved to Beloch that he was dealing with an idea concocted by his mortal enemies. Against this kind of scholarship Nietzsche lifted his voice and with him the entire nihilist trend of thought of Germany at the turn of the century.

even when relegated to a lesser place. having revised part of Mommsen’s work . It was necessary to prove that the passages of Aristotle could be interpreted without reference to the formal structure of ancient metrology. and moral traditions. Beloch and De Sanctis were not afraid to do this. with its technical and mathematical rigors. It was natural that the study of metrology. Only now. for whom formalism and constitutional government were of paramount importance. which allowed the development of Greek numismatics. ―ape. up to that time only a poor sister of Roman numismatics. In 1891 Aristotle’s Constitution of the Athenians was discovered. The text of Aristotle bothered Beloch and De Sanctis in that it contained references to Solon’s metrological reforms and hence seemed to require a knowledge of this most condemned auxiliary discipline. since they had already intimated the same about the system of rules developed by scholars of Roman law. The parting shot for the Roman school was fired in 1909 by Willers in hisGeschichte der römischen Kupferprägung.1 There was also another specific reason for Beloch and his pupil De Sanctis to direct their fire against metrology. which one could well accept on practical grounds. which they greeted as an opportunity to do away with the philological method in the field of Greek history. Willers was a numismatist who had reasons for disagreeing violently with Mommsen’s study of Roman coinage. but. They set down the principle that this text should be the basis of the study of Greek history.‖ and with this word the Roman school disposed of all ―philologists‖ who were described as abstract and pedantic squelchers of the creative spirit. since this work is weak from the numismatic point of view.2 In reality.against all intellectual. ―copycat. metrologists are usually weak as numismatists. should be quoted as the worst example of scimmionismo. but the reverse is also usually true. metrological questions continued to exist. after fifty years. Beloch and De Sanctis were the least fit to appreciate a text of Aristotle. This procedure. An incidental reason for stressing the significance of this text is that allegedly it emphasizes the importance of dictatorship in Athenian social progress. Beloch imported the term Abschreiber. social. Willers thought that. and that all that had been written up to then about metrology was an imaginary and arbitrary construction. to them meant that the study of Greek history could be reduced to politics without consideration for Greek intellectual history and that one could study a single text in isolation without all the baggage of auxiliary researches required by the philological method. The great contribution of Mommsen’s work is his incidental study of Greek metrology. De Sanctis tried to disentangle himself by asserting that Solon’s social reforms had nothing to do with his monetary and metrological reforms.‖ which was translated into Italian asscimmione. As I have said before. scholars are beginning to recognize how little progress has been made in the interpretation of the Constitution of the Athenians. as Mommsen himself admits in a prefatory letter to the French translation.

As to the alleged crippling of research on Greek monetary standards. of course. one disposed of the work of generations of scholars who had shown that the Greek and Roman system of measures was the Egyptian and Babylonian one. namely. a Marxist historian and Socialist politician. properly complained an Italian historian. came out with a book directed against metrology. but I would rather call it a methodological frenzy. that this influence cannot be expressed in a simple fashion-in terms of fractions. This manifesto is based on what Willers had heard in Italy from the mouths of Beloch and De Sanctis. as far as it contains documented statements. probably because it was not accepted as respectable in Germany and Italy. Ciccotti. whose dogmas have been forced upon numismatists. For this reason Willers added to his respectable book a few prefatory pages that are a wild manifesto against metrology. This last point was made in 1915 by Ettore Ciccotti. The only point remarkable in Beloch’s statement is that he tried to develop in the spot a new system of Greek metrology and that his construction. he should attack the entire science of metrology with which Mommsen was associated. be impossible to prove the identity of the systems if one sets the rule that scholars of Greek and Roman metrology must ignore the system of the Orient. who in 1914 joined the ranks of the ultra-patriots of the Mussolini group. that of Willers and Beloch and the English one. It is still beyond our knowledge how much the Egyptian and Babylonian weight systems have influenced the Greek and Italic ones but this much can be clearly seen already today. é un incubo.on Roman coinage. It does not contain any textual reference. This method is nothing but a mathematical playwork. In this book. attempts having been made to include coins in its scope. with an increase of invective. Ridgeway’s work. and in the course of time it has brought about a complete crippling of research on Greek monetary standards. Vecchi e nuovi orizzonti della numismatica. Willers’ manifesto was echoed by Beloch. and that the latter is much more radical. Willers makes the following declaration: The competent reader will be surprised by my repugnance for the so-called comparative metrology. follows the conclusions and the techniques he condemns. In any case. however. derive the Greek and Roman weight system from the monuments and meanwhile leave the Orient completely to one side. we must. in the first place. in the chapter ―Metrologisches‖ of his Griechische Geschichte. is not quoted. In this way. it is a fact that studies had flourished up to just this point. In order to prove his conversion to the side of anti-German academic chauvinism. It will. after ten years of scientific inactivity. La metrologia non é scienza. he demonstrates that there have been two attacks against metrology. but it gives in three pages an imaginary history of metrology that is a modified version of Ridgeway’s theories. It was obviously the right political move to . A sort of apotheosis of this discipline is the booklet by Hultsch entitled Die Gewichte des Altertums in ihrem Zusammenhange dargestellt.

formulated by Romanists of the nineteenth century. consequently. and to concentrate on the production of works of vulgarization and interpretation of history. so he questioned the validity of metrology in general. which was conducted in the name of antiGermanism in England and in Italy. and Socialists. Beloch stated that his internment as an enemy alien in Italy in 1918 was the greatest misfortune of his life. with replies and counterreplies in which Weissbach made sweeping statements against the method of metrologists and Lehmann-Haupt and Kurt Regling tried to explain why. For instance. any metrological research would be impossible. who renounced competition with the overwhelmingly superior German scholarship. and one would. as Aristotle points out. Lehmann-Haupt used arguments from the field of metrology. The result was a polemic that lasted for years. a victim of the wave of fanaticism he had helped to stir up in Italy. because it prevented him from emerging as a political leader in Germany at the moment of the defeat. never find the documents required before the age of Socrates at least. in some cases. in which he had a breadth of information unrivaled since the age of Bernard. took an anti-Semitic tone in Germany. He quoted at length the ideas of William Ramsay. One may cite as an example the uncompromising position of Giorgio Pasquali. by means of the organization of a popular revolutionary movement based on hatred of Frenchmen. recently published . Weissbach claimed that numerical relations do not prove anything and that ―one must accept as proven only what is spelled out explicitly in words‖ General verbal formulations of accepted social practices belong to the highest level of culture.‖ This last reservation is a reflection of the fact that the majority of Italian scholars put up a good fight against the attempt to discredit the philological method. one may speculate whether English numismatists. ―Per l’emancipazione della cultura italiana. in 1918 Beloch was suspended from his chair at the University of Rome. Weissbach disagreed with Carl Lehmann-Haupt. Weissbach. The attack against metrology. but added the warning that this call for works of ―genius‖ must not be ―an excuse for laziness and improvisation. Jews. H. and metrology have to be blamed for the fact that the Third Reich was not established under the leadership of Professor Beloch.‖ In this article. decided to attack Lehmann-Haupt in the field of metrology. Ciccotti. A clear refutation of Weissbach’s contention is provided by an inscription found at Thasos. it is to be noted that this event had a sobering effect on De Sanctis’ position. and of English numismatists in particular. And. if one accepted Weissbach’s view. who was a sound scholar in the field of textual interpretation. The general rules of Roman law began to be formulated in the Byzantine age and were.uncover that the German Beloch had remained a Teuton after all. Ciccotti’s book must be read with his popular article of that same date. Weissbach had no competence in metrology. he advised Italians to follow the example of English classicists. The attack began as a dispute on some Assyrian metrological texts about which F. in fact.

further. In the thirties. But. but the concrete issue under dispute is a single one. that one should accept as evidence only weights that were marked with inscriptions stating that they were official weights and stating expressly the number of the units and the nature of the units. the single arguments used by Weissbach are not very important. he found enthusiastic approval and was thereby encouraged to defend an impossible position. in a series of articles in La Revue Numismatique. Weissbach was forced to question every single technique of evidence normally used in metrological investigations. proved the existence of this relation on the basis of some of the best known ancient sample weights. I do not know whether Weissbach intended to use anti-Semitic innuendoes. possibly. Colonel de La Chaussée. came into conflict with his mentor. what proved important is that he attacked Lehmann-Haupt in a manner that LehmannHaupt mildly called ―unparliamentary. Such a stricture is tantamount to asking epigraphists to limit themselves to the study of inscriptions that have been found in their full text. I intend to show that the instruments and the methods of calculation used account for the relation 24:25. who had begun as a follower of Lehmann-Haupt and published useful. though not outstanding. This confirmation was displeasing to Beloch and De Sanctis since it implied that one should study Solon’s reforms in the light of general metrological practice. For instance. Lehmann-Haupt accused Viedebantt of having appropriated the results of some of his studies3and. Since the evidence about the use of the relation 24:25 is overwhelming. He considered this discovery his greatest contribution to scholarship. Viedebantt blamed Lehmann-Haupt for his . One has to read about fifteen hundred pages in order to follow the dispute between Weissbach and Lehmann-Haupt. in turn. T.by Mabel Lang. In 1934 N. Therefore when Weissbach denied the existence of the relation 24:25. Bieliaev arrived at the same conclusion by a statistical analysis of weights excavated at Susa in Iran. he made it before the publication of Aristotle’s Constitution of the Athenians came to confirm it by definitely proving that in the Solonian system there were two minas of 432 and of 450 grams and that other units were adjusted accordingly. but the fact is that references The matter became worse when Oskar Viedebantt. who demonstrated that not only all weights but all units of volume were of varieties related as 24:25. Lehmann-Haupt had realized that all important units of weight and volume exist in two varieties related as 24:25 or 96:100. research. which consists of three words and four numbers and is. since Lehmann-Haupt tried to prove his point by the examination of sample weights.‖ Even Ciccotti granted that the language used went beyond what is acceptable in scholarly disputes. Weissbach replied that such a difference between weights could be the result of accidental causes and. in any case. The correctness of Lehmann-Haupt’s opinion on the relation 24:25 was proved in 1942 on theoretical grounds by August Oxé. the most important metrological inscription ever discovered.

but for reasons better known to himself he initiated a quarrel with the other scholars of the same field. A more serious effort to establish a new metrology according to the pronunciamentos of the Roman school was made by Angelo Segrè. when he was about to break with Lehmann-Haupt. because of his richness of contumely against the ―old‖ metrologists. ma di fiera battaglia. T. He declared. by saying that they were reactionary and not aware of social and economic reality. In this way Segrè succeeded in spoiling . like Kubitschek. did not produce any monumental evidence. Viedebantt proclaimed himself the founder of a ―new school‖ of metrology opposed to the ―old school. who reviewed with enthusiasm Viedebantt’s Antike Gewichtsnormen und Münzfüsse (1923). dedicated the first pages of his Antike Münzfüsse to berating Lehmann-Haupt for believing in the existence of the relation 24:25. In his first manifesto of the new school. E questo non solo libro di scienza. who praised the book while granting that it was beyond his ken. F. after he became a follower of Weissbach. Similar things had been said by Beloch and are a standard part of Fascist ideologies. first of all. but filled pages and pages with abstruse and often irrelevant numerological calculations. This is a rather strange statement since Lehmann-Haupt had dealt with the relation in his earliest works. I know that they would have had a hard time doing it. I have spent many a painful week in trying to interpret it and at times have found in it a useful reckoning. In a way I have done more justice to Viedebantt’s work. since.failure to obtain a university position. he claimed that he would have arrived independently at the discovery of the general occurrence of the relation 24:25 and he ―was in condition of showing a heap of manuscripts‖ written before his becoming acquainted with Lehmann-Haupt’s position. should have been punished by being asked to explain some of its pages. The seriousness of Viedebantt’s approach is indicated by the fact that. Lehmann-Haupt and then all other metrologists present and past who had followed Böckh’s ideas. The English numismatists G. He did not explain how he intended to deal with the evidence concerning this relation he had gathered in the mentioned unpublished manuscripts and with the evidence he had published in the article ―Hin‖ of theReal-Encyclopädie. Seltman. The prevailing frame of mind of the scholarly world in such matters is indicated by the review of Pericle Ducati. in spite of his slogan. particularly in view of the fact that their works prove that numbers definitely are not their forte. Hill and C. one of whom was his uncle. He started as a scholar of Roman law.‖ of which the representatives were. written when Viedebantt was still a minor. Viedebantt subscribed to Willers’ position and declared that his school had as slogan Heraus mit den monumentalen Zeugen! Viedebantt. As a result of this miserable story. which occasionally are arithmetically incorrect. But most peculiar is the fact that Viedebantt. The ―new‖ school was composed of Weissbach and Viedebantt.‖ but as to ―science‖ I am of the opinion that it has been lost in the scuffle. I can well see the ―fierce battle.

In the process of writing this work. which dealt with the Hellenistic katagraphe. and among them is that of having reduced all ancient weights to multiples or submultiples of a single Egyptian unit. It is to be noted that this metrologist. which have not yet been considered by scholars.some excellent legal studies and continued to do so up to his last one. this particular achievement was the basis of the last and most comprehensive study of Hultsch. He had to believe that there was no close relation between the metrology of the several ancient countries and that there was no interdependence between measures of length. The situation caused such great personal distress to Segrè that at times he abandoned metrological studies for periods of years. I publish a revision of his treatise. namely. As evidence of this. Metrological studies continued in the peace of isolation in distant Romania. using his notes. in which. who was compelled to deny the significance of his work. volume and weight. under whose guidance he wrote his major work. there was little left of the original work. by the time he had accepted De Sanctis’ theories and let him edit the manuscript. On the basis of this footnote I was able to determine that measures could be calculated long or short with a difference of 10 percent.friends competent in the field of physics suggested to him that he should abandon the ungrateful study of metrology and dedicate himself to theoretical physics. Segrè undoubtedly was unique in variety of skills and breadth of learning. Segrè became involved in a welter of absurdities. I can only say that Segrè’s inability to resist the cruel pressures of our age has resulted in a tremendous loss to scholarship. I do not hesitate to compare this case with that of Copernicus. His position as a member of one of the great princely families of Romania may explain his aloofness from academic controversy. because I would have been in the situation of Procopius writing the secret volume of his court history. but the underlying. that the volume of the artaba depends on the relation of length between foot and cubit is buried in a footnote. he reveals an awareness of economic reality possibly inherited from his Phanariote Greek grandfathers. Segrè became a protegé of De Sanctis. so he was accused of frantzuzisme. Romanian nationalist and anti-Semitic extremists tended to be pro-German. Certain formal inaccuracies and erroneous quotations are evidence of the emotional stress under which he wrote his main work. he had the strength to make this . About ten years ago he kindly suggested that. too. unexpressed idea of the entire work is to the contrary. where Mihail Sutzu (Soutzos) dedicated his long life (1841-1933) to them. Being blackballed by the Romanists. Sutzu arrived at other similarly important results. he could still achieve a fame similar to that of his brother. was accused of kowtowing to foreign scholarship. Greek inscriptions distinguish between calculation pheidolos and drakto. The most important metrological discovery. but in spite of his nobility of approach. I can point out that after the publication of his Metrologia. in spite of his age. Metrologia (1928). His achievements are great. Luckily. but I found this tempting offer unacceptable. In the following thirty years.

I am a frantzusit and I consider this a glory.C. and determined that the same units were used in medieval Russia. second. The only contemporary upholder of metrology is another isolated scholar. and well aloud. Aurès. My studies of ancient metrology have led me to two general conclusions: first. Dörpfeld. He has pointed out that the same weights with the same subdivisions are found in early Rome and in India of the third millennium B. for some reason. Lehmann-Haupt. one sees quite clearly that metrology corresponds to the main elements of it. the Russian exile Bieliaev. When one considers Max Weber’s description of the frame of mind necessary to the development of capitalism. Thureau-Dangin and so on. organ of Russian exile scholarship.‖4 I wish Segrè had had the same psychological security instead of wasting his life in fear of personal criticism of his work. Weber himself suggests this when he lists a rational legal system such as Roman law among the prerequisites.public declaration in the organ of the Liberal Party: ―Since there are some who aspire to make an insult of the word frantzusit. are usually considered not even worthy of a dismissal. Lepsius. that metrology provided the foundation for the scientific rational vision of the world. The history of the vicissitudes of metrological scholarship forces one to ask why there has been such an explosion of irrationality in a field that is so dry and technical. Nissen. the French metrologists De Sacy. He has traced the connecting links in Sumer and in Egypt. I shall shout. It is not extraordinary that somebody has claimed that Böckh. Without entering into details about the history of a period for which I claim no competence. Kubitschek and others spent the whole or a good part of their lives furthering a sort of conspiracy aiming at the befuddlement of the scholarly world. it seems to me that the spirit that Weber describes as the prerequisite of the capitalistic age is nothing but classicist rationalism as recreated by Humanism. that metrology was born mainly from the practices of the international merchant class of the ancient world and. Regling. Incidentally. Brugsch. so that nobody may fail to notice. an encyclopedic mind whose activity extends from the teaching of metallurgy to Oriental archaeology and Russian history. I think that these two aspects of metrology can explain the a priori prejudice of some classicists. Brandis. Hultsch. Mommsen. Häberlin. the most distinguished. He agrees that the conception of universal society as formulated in the age of the Antonine . but it is extraordinary that such a paranoiac view was widely accepted. Unfortunately most of his essays have appeared in the Seminarium Kondakovianum. Decourdemanche. but little known.

It should be the historical task of classicists to point out that the world of Copernicus. This also explains. Similar ideas are also presented by Pierre-Maxime Schuhl and. was a period of rapid technological change which was closely linked with the development of Greek thought. It is for this reason that there are people who. but extends it to include leftist radicalism and the whole penumrba of scientific and philosophical rationalism. Newton. Descartes. who was one of the most influential thinkers of the French Third Republic. and Leibniz is their world. by Benjamin Farrington. has written that the difficulty in interpreting the remaining quotations of preSocratic philosophers results from the fact that they were often lifted from the context of technological treatises. This bias of classical studieshas been studied in relation to the birth of . to some extent. and to remind this world of its spiritual foundations.Emperors best corresponds to the needs of a capitalist order.C. recognize in metrology something Semitic. in a more popular version. specifically he remarks that they are reactions against what Weber called ―the process of rationalization. Metrology is closely linked with an outlook that corresponds to that of the modern capitalistic scientific world. has indicated that the period of Greek bloom from the seventh to the fifth century B. and Rodolfo Mondolfo. On the contrary. the nature of the attacks against metrology. It characteristically accepts in essentials the socialist indictment of the existing order described as capitalism.‖ Parsons states: The reaction against the ideology of rationalization of society is one of the principal aspects at least of the ideology of fascism. who is a fine specialist of pre-Socratic philosophy. Galilei. chauvinism and racial bigotry are the expressions of attitudes of rebellion against the increasing demand for rational behavior made by modern society. the field of classics has often become the refuge of people with resentments against scientific progress. Alfred Espinas. with the same logic for which Jews are blamed for modern capitalism and science. These highly important views have even less chance of being considered than the achievements of metrological research. with a resulting hostility toward some fundamental aspects of ancient thought. Herman Diels notes this in the preface to Antike Technik. The sociologist Talcott Parsons has properly pointed out that phenomena such as Fascism.

and for this reason was able to assemble a tremendous amount of facts within the framework of a universal history. The historian Luigi Salvatorelli (who is the most outstanding chronicler and analyst of the Fascist phenomenon in Italy) has written that Fascism was. who began his academic activity as historian of the Christian Roman Empire. this capitalist civilization often ignored and despised cultural values. who wrote in defense of the most crude form of philosophical positivism. a reaction by the class of parasitic job holders with academic degrees against the involvement of Italy in the stream of international capitalism. including technical skills in classical studies.. and hence. of capitalistic civilization. It is obvious that for this reason the entire world of ancient international trade and the cosmopolitan science of metrology was something not of his liking. all measures have been established arbitrarily before the existence of metric systems.5 Thus it was that the main butt of the future fascists was the philological method and the industrialization of Italy with the help of German technology and capital. in spite of his proclaimed positivism. one may note that during the First World War he proved to be a . points out that in Italy classical education of the rhetorical type.6 It must be noted that it is in this context that anti-Semitic literature made its first appearance in Italy. together with diligence in compiling detailed historical research.. reciprocally. Salvatorelli. first of all. connected with an ancient history that emphasized the political side.. He noted that this ‖humanistic petite bourgeoisie‖ was the product of a classical education emphasizing only the rhetorical skills. approved by Thureau-Dangin. The attack against metrology began in England.Italian Fascism.‖8 This statement is as dogmatic as the entire methodology of Meyer. and in a particular way should explain also why metrology met and meets such opposition. and received general support in a moment in which it was felt. One of the basic conceptions of this universal history was the paramount importance of the state in shaping culture.. and saw itself threatened by the possible rise of true bourgeois elites with all sorts of technical skills. rightly or wrongly. who. which unconscionably ascribes to the old Babylonians the modern speculation that derives the system of weights from the unit of length. that England would be worsted in a liberal world of capitalistic competition. of the economic and moral values of entrepreneurs and workers. had very fixed notions on the course of history. At a minor level. It is significant that Eduard Meyer. dismisses all metrological studies in a few lines: ―I hold as unjustified the assumption of Nissen and Lehmann-Haupt. In reality. gave ‖an artificial representation of the ancient world‖ and created a complete ignorance ‖of the new scientificindustrial world.‖7 These remarks about the Italian political scene throw a good deal of light on the state of classical studies in general. where classical studies had taken the aspect of dilettante exercises. he discounted the influence of economic factors not controlled by the state.

as it is not an argument against the philological method. have often been justified on the ground of philosophical positivism. even though the ancients tried to justify their system of units on the basis of rational relations with an immanent order of the physical world. and. aiming at proving on the basis of a long experience with the subject that in metrology one meets only with a limited number of types of numerical relations.rabid academic chauvinist. because of the identity between these Indian units and the Roman ones. is not an argument against metrology. reversing the argument of English warmongers. In my own sphere of research. this is a technique most frequently used by scholars of Roman law. For instance. Modern positivism has its roots in Newton’s gravitational theory. and thatarithmos is a synonym of metra. Newton’s metrological studies may solve the problem raised by historians of science concerning the intellectual development that . In reality positivism. was written as a purely positivistic statement. that which was the occasion for the attacks against metrology by Willers and Beloch.11 The last study of Hultsch. which means ”ratio. if one were to search for antecedents of positivism in ancient thought. The English archaeologist Flinders Petrie took a positivistic position in matters of metrology.9 The attacks against philological method and hence against metrology.10 for this reason he engaged in the task of tabulating statistically all the sample weights he excavated or could find available in collections. The fact that in recent excavations of Indian Bronze Age sites the weights have been statistically tabulated has provided one of the most striking confirmations of metrological theories. I have tried to stress as a mere fact that money is called nomos and that this word is synonymous with arithmos. claimed that individual liberty and the notion of a world market was an English invention aiming at the total victory of capitalism and hence at English world supremacy. taken as a serious position.” But I have met the objection that these facts are too odd to be presented as such. one can write papers showing statistically that a word is used in a given sense. Not only is it true that metrological research must often be conducted with positivist techniques. In spite of the fact that his sampling was of necessity incomplete (this type of research should be increased at least tenfold) he determined statistically the existence of a pattern of distribution of weight types which agrees perfectly with the conclusions of theoretical research. Most of the prejudice against the conclusions of metrologists stem from the circumstance that often these have to be presented in a positivist form: it is often possible to point out identity of measures in very distant areas and in very different periods. without having the data for tracing the connecting links. and proclaimed agnosticism in matters of metrological theories. but also that. metrology may be just the field: any system of measures must contain some positivistic elements.

in one line dismisses as the extreme of metrological absurdity a study of Hugo Winckler showing how the ancients tried to connect earthly units of measurement with astronomical measurements. besides being linguists and antiquarians. in first raising the problems of ancient metrology properly summed up with this epigram the spirit that animates metrology. namely. its connection with the notion of cosmic order and with the striving toward transcendental values. who is a voluminous writer. without discussing causes. and approached the study of astronomy and Greek geometry and mathematics with a religious feeling. mensura sit idem. in the other case. Et status illaesus totius orbis erit. even twentieth– century statistical positivism. in one case. It is not irrelevant that Böckh had theological training and was deeply influenced by Leibniz’s philosophy. Budé (1468-1540). Pattern is the central idea of positivism. In reality the classicists who justify their position by appealing to modern scientific positivism. The professed positivism of many modern classicists is a device for rejecting the intellectual structures of the ancients and organizing the facts according to the personal ideological assumptions of the investigators. and the belief in the existence of well–defined patterns of thought and behavior in the ancient world is what is found to be objectionable by the opponents of philologia. because it emphasizes one of the characteristic aspects of ancient metrology. are using it merely as a pretext for rejecting the idea of order. by the French Revolution. Greaves quotes an epigram by Guillaume Budé: Una fides. who founded metrological research were Biblical scholars and men of theological convictions.induced Newton to offer a theory which limits itself to the presentation of a pattern. One can clearly see how he brought to metrology ideas about ancient science that he had discovered in his study of Plato’s Timaeus. Greaves. His main concern in the study of ancient culture was the problem of intellectual harmony and the order of the universe. and Böckh shared a common faith in universal reason and were concerned with transcending the social and intellectual cleavage brought about. Meyer had to reject outright this fact for which there is abundant textual evidence. At the head of his work on metrology. Bernard. the scholar of Roman law who founded Greek scholarship in France. whereas positivism. It is not by accident that the two Oxford scholars. It is significant that Meyer. by the religious wars and. called to attention also by other studies.12 It is for this reason that Maimonides was greatly concerned with . De harmonice veterum. pondus. the influence of Leibniz’ thought in its mathematizing aspect is clearly revealed by the subject of Böckh’s doctoral dissertation. does not reject the idea of order. Greaves and Bernard.

that is. From metrology there developed conceptions of the world such as are embodied in the Timaeus. this conclusion was confirmed about one century later by the discovery of a Greek inscription on which there is cut a reference standard of this length. being steadikly repeated without awareness of their origin. One must not forget that it was Nietzsche who initiated the revolt against philologia.. These remarks have entered historical works and. his weakness is his limited knowledge of the richer Greek materials. and it is the text considered by scholars to best embody the ideal of Renaissance science. But something radically new followed the popularization of Newton’s theories. It is in its spirit that Copernicus. have greatly hampered metrological studies. a thinker as unworldly as Spinoza did not understand the spirit of ancient metrology and. made offhand remarks about the mathematical ineptness of Hebrew metrology. On the other side. Newton and Leibniz set the foundations of modern science. which is at the borderline between science and humanities. One of the difficulties of metrology is the fact that it has both cosmological and practical economic aspects. of confidence in the identity of human thought with reality. . partly for the avowed purpose of discrediting Biblical authority. It was the astronomer and cosmologist Pierre de Laplace (1749-1827). the two most influential philosophers of this century. It was the only dialogue known in the Middle Ages. which imply more or less directly a belief in the validity of the structures of reason. for which he misses the flexibility of the system of metrology. This chasm is further emphasized by my training in Roman law and in the philological method. It is natural that the study of metrology. that by the Spaniard Vicente Vazquez Queipo13 takes its start from Maimonides’ work. It was a gradually increasing attitude of revolt against reason which found its final affirmation in Nietzsche. Many of his conclusions are final and the clearest of the modern treatises of metrology. flexibility that allows adaptation to the most varied historical situations. I have a view completely different from that of classicists who had absorbed the nihilism and the psychologism of the previous generation of philosophers. the founders respectively of phenomenology and of existentialism. since at the University of Freiburg I received my philosophical education from Husserl and Heidegger. A contemporary scholar who has clearly stated the intellectual value of ancient metrology is Georges Conteneau14 I do not find anything scandalous in metrology. should be under attack. who was concerned also with the practical applications of the Newtonian concept of the world. The present crisis of classical studies is an expression of a more general crisis of modern thought for which science has completely divorced itself from its humanistic foundations and has degenerated into technology.metrological problems. who was able to determine that the ancients used a cubit of 555 mm. which from Aristotle’s time until recently was considered the most important of Plato’s dialogues. Vazquez’ strength is his acquaintance with the Arabic-Hebrew culture of Spain. Galilei. Having accepted a position of realism. Kepler.

are emphatic and clear in assigning dramatic significance to the introduction of metrology (metra kai stathma kai arithmos. Phenomenologists did not have to wait for the atom bomb to warn that objectivized science had become a monster that would crush humanity. They can make this dogmatic declaration because it corresponds to the asusmptions of modern science: measures are conceived as something that exists objectively in the physical .C. For this reason he pays attention to metrology. The central idea of Husserl is that after Newton there took place an intellectual revolution by which the mathematical scientific universe came to be considered an objective reality independent of the mind of man. but in substance the skepticism about my thesis resulted from the fact that my critics could not see the problem.. however. they can tell me with certainty that measurement consisted merely in chosing arbitrarily some units. Greek sources. Therefore the textual and archaeological evidence I had collected had trivial meaning for them. Husserl states that an intellectual revolution is necessary in order to enthrone again human reason in the field of science. Since I was concerned with the reception of metrology by Greece in the seventh century B. dedicated much of his research to the origin of Greek science because he wanted to recapture the spirit in which it was born. or simply metra). but obviously he had been able to realize from the reading of Greek philosophy how this is related to metrology. In this address he makes the point that the perversion of scientific thought that took place after Newton results from having lost sight of the genetic relation between practical metrology and the mathematical interpretation of the universe. which he delivered several times as a summation of his thought after Hitler’s rise to power.The problem is discussed by Husserl in his speech on The Crisis of European Culture. even though he was not a historian by vocation. This is the essence of humanism according to Husserl. an affirmation of the human mind: the logos discovered in nature is the human logos. It is likely that Husserl hardly knew about studies of ancient metrology. so that modern scientism is linked with antirationalistic tendencies. By this process the world of science became a negation of human rationality. Husserl. to destroy the notion that the mathematical world of nature is something with which man is externally confronted. In the last few years I have been told by several classicists that the problem I am trying to investigate does not exist: without probably having ever given any thought to the question. which was done independently in each locality. it was objected that I was dealing with the reception of something which it was doubtful existed at all. This epistemological problem explains the criticism of my thesis. For the Greeks science was the product of the rational attitude of man. and stresses how important it is for science to have a correct view of this relation. because it reveals man’s deliberate option in specific social-historical circumstances to interpret the world in mathematical terms.

whereas Plato was interested just in doing away with its practical aspects. just as today the engineer learns to use the slide rule for an entire series of different calculations. the founder of modern metrological studies. The sources indicate that one first learned to use the abacus. but he thought its knowledge necessary for historical research: ―The ancients attributed to numbers a mystical virtue of which today we can hardly realize the full importance. and then learned to use it to calculate volumes. in which the idea of justice is explained by referring to money and to the price . August Aurès (1806-1894). but I have gone far enough to know that the order of the letters in the alphabet is a function of the abacus. I have started from what seems to me the very first step. For this reason. One of the central ideas of ancient metrology is explained by the much read and little understood Fifth Book of Aristotle’s Ethics.‖ I have found evidence of the peculiar significance that numbers had for the ancients in the fact that the letters of the alphabet are always associated by the ancients with numbers. specific gravities. I have left this line of research in abeyance. remarks that it is important to understand the significance that the ancients attached to number and measurement and that it is necessary to meditate texts such as Plato’s Epinomis in order to interpret metrological evidence. All this proves how necessary it is in historical research to put oneself in a frame of mind not dissonant from the ancient one. geographical distances. Husserl has demonstrated that this is the total denial of humanistic studies. This apparently puzzling aspect of ancient thought became clearer to me when I realized that the alphabet is in some way related to the abacus. rates of interest. and so on. It is to be noted that he did not agree with this particular view of the world. the denial of man’s capacity to construct for himself a reasonable and comprehensive image of the world. I feel that metrology helps in understanding Plato rather than the other way around. weights. I feel that by starting with an Aristotelian outlook I have been able to develop a different metrology from that of my predecessors. in that I have taken into account practical operations. was influenced by the philosophy of Leibnitz and that one of Böckh’s major writings was a commentary on Plato’s Timaeus. which is a knowledge of the instruments of calculation. The greatest among the French metrologists. In this matter. In order to understand the spirit of metrology it may be helpful to keep in mind that Böckh. Aristotle provides a better insight into the practical aspects of metrology. their prejudices were so great that I do not think I am exaggerating when I consider number mysticism as having operated as the essential basis of most of their knowledge. waiting for the results of recent discoveries concerning Cretan and Ugaritic writings. Possibly the study of Aristotle may be preferable to the study of Plato as a preparation to metrological studies.world.

A concrete result of this way of looking at the problem is that I have been able to see that the ancients had an instrument of reckoning. and if we want to think with exactness about science itself and appreciate its meaning and import. who came to metrology from the study of cosmogony but at the same time travelled extensively in the Orient and saw the ancient system of metrology still used by the Arabs. In metrology. Luckily.structure. one can see the meaning of the word epiousios in the Lord’s Prayer. which is a primitive slide rule operating on logarithms with base 2. the Feeding of the Four Thousand and the Feeding of the Five Thousand. which nobody used systematically for this purpose after Greaves and Bernard. This book explains why money is called by the same name that applies to civil law and to natural law (nomos) and why this term is synonymous with arithmos. and to give a more adequate picture I must refer to Plato’s writing in which he stresses the importance of the art of measuring in the education of the citizen. a problem to which I have referred earlier. a word on the interpretation of which an entire library has been written. ―The entire universe of science is built on the lived world. metrology first developed as an attempt to assure justice in the contract of sale by mathematizing the relation. one must steadily shift from metaphysical and ethical presuppositions to practical aspects. I am not able to embrace all these facts in one single view. in the Bible. phenomenological method of Husserl allows one to understand this continuous shift from the practical to the theoretical. we must first of all awaken that experience of the world of which science is a subsequent expression. Merleau-Ponty says in the preface to Phenomenologie de la Perception. the diagrammismos. one can see how. provides an excellent insight into the practical operations of economic life and constitutes an excellent means for interpreting Greek inscriptions. his has been the concern of Greaves and Bernard.‖ If one begins by assuming that Plato and Aristotle spoke nonsense and that one can be a scholar of ancient history without bothering to find out what . of which Greek inscriptions provide the most abundant evidence. the idea of Divine Providence is linked with the methods used in the rationing of food. Once one keeps in mind the metrological aspects of the idea of Providence. The origins of the art of legislation and of legal science are to be found in lists that state how many measures of a given commodity would correspond to a measure of another commodity. Once one takes this practical outlook. This particular instrument accounts for the existence of measures of volume and weight related at 24:25. The Talmud. I think that I have been able to achieve the synthesis between the study of Greek economics and the study of Greek conceptions of order at which Böckh aimed. The fact is that metrology is so central to ancient thought that its study tends to expand in all directions. One must keep in mind the ethical aspects of metrology to see in the Gospels the metrological reasons for the two miracles of the multiplication of the bread.

to which the anciences referred with the phrasemetra kai stathma kai nomisma (or arithmos). and Rome were on the same meridian. provided the link between metrology and astronomy. in order to justify the attacks on metrology. money. Once this is accepted. Rhodes was on the meridian of the Nile and. further was on the meridian passing through the Dardanelles and a river of the Black Sea corresponding to the Nile. This can be explained by an example in which this attitude was carried to an absurd conclusion. provided the link between measures of length and of time. stated that ancient measures were conceived in the spirit of Protagoras. one sees that the basic structure of the Odyssey is that of a geographical poem.they said. was the center of the world. such as that. allowed great scientific achievements. allowing for the development of astronomical navigation. astronomical navigation. giving pointers on orientation and distances. Hesiod. These erroneous assumptions. These calculations. Ancient scientific geography developed from metrology. such as amagingly accurate calculations of the size of the earth. a study of this way of interpretation allows the historian to explain what Homer means by metra keleuthou and Hesiod by metra thalasses. were based on erroneous assumptions. calculations of the size of the earth. The difficulty of metrological studies results from the fact that metrology originated in a given way of looking at the world. In an indirect way the importance of an insight into views such as those of Plato and Aristotle for the study of metrology is admitted by Segrè who. Once this way of thinking is clear. conceived as a fixed unit both of length and of time. for logical reasons. at first as a study of the distances and times needed for commercial travel and navigation. There are no other equally extensive sources allowing one to arrive at an insight into the realm of ideas referred to by the word metra in Homer. It is clear that in mythology Odysseus is a doublet of Palamedes. according to the sexagesimal method of dividing the horizon. In spite of the huge amount of writing on the subject. since one cannot arrive at a feeling for its implied intellectual presuppositions. however. a way in which the notion of the existence of a recognizable rational order is implied. the hero to whom were ascribed the inventions of the abacus. It is necessary to look with some sympathy at the effort to see the world in terms of the immanent structures of the mind. the Strait of Messina. the alphabet. The step. the study of metrology becomes impossible. being on the latitude of the caravan route from Syria to Mesopotamia. From the tables concerning trade routes there developed scientific geography and. the location of Ithaca can be determined to the mile. and all the system of sciences necessary to trade. according to my reckonings. I hope that after having reconstructed in detail the . Heraclitus and Pindar. however. In any case. metrology. very soon. scholars have not seen the rather elementary fact that the cardinal points of the Homeric poems are not four but six. and. The same way of interpreting things accounted for the assumption that Carthage.

it was not the object of a single mention or book review. and in spite of the established scholarly reputation of its author. and these. A great part of the methodological disagreement results from the fact that in metrology one must proceed with the method used in Roman law. must be used to interpret the single texts. If some scholars have acted like the astronomers of Padua.‖ The only really important work of metrology in this century was written by August Oxé. it is not surprising that even though for years I have tried to concentrate my attention on the simplest and most obvious documents of ancient metrology.myth of Palamedes I shall be able to prove that the contention of Emile Mireaux that the Odyssey was written in the early years of the reign of King Gyges of Lydia is a fact. All this indicates that metrology was one of the central ideas of the ancient world. The fact is that metrology accounts for the development of scientific and philosophic attitudes in the ancient world.” Given the fact that metrology has such widespread implications. this is the work that was dismissed by Willers and Beloch as mere fancy. who refused to look through the telescope at the satellites of Jupiter. is used in early parts of the Bible to refer to the laws of the Hebrews and in late parts to the divine order of the universe. the correspondent of Descartes. It is to be noted that in spite of the monumental scope of this work. one must proceed with a survey of the entire evidence in order to arrive at the formulation of basic principles. was aware of the wide cosmological implications of metrology and opened his treatise with the words ―Cum omnia Deus in numero. it is because if they accept the interpretation of one single inscription or of one single archaeological measurement. at the age of seventy-nine. coming from the ―witches’ kitchen. since of necessity I have always to refer in a more or less limited way to some general principle. in 1644 made an unsuccessful attempt to reconstruct the system of ancient metrology. I have found that my conclusions are questioned a priori. before Bernard. And for the same reason Hultsch called his final and comprehensive work Die Gewichte des Altertums nach ihrem Zusammenhänge dargestellt. The field is so enormous that I have given little thought to the fact that metrology was exported from the ancient world into China. that is. who. in turn. covering all important volume and weight measures of the ancient world. they have to swallow the existence of systematic metrology. It is for this reason that Böckh titled his work as dealing with measures in ihrem Zusammenhange. to my . applied by the Talmud to the contract of sale. this is a fact of which Bernard already was aware. pondere. Marin Mersenne. mensura condiderit. summing up what must have been decades of research. It is so central that as a researcher I found myself confronted with a frightening Pandora’s box. It is sufficient to consider that a phrase like numero pondere mensura.. and it is called Antike Hohlmasse und Gewichte in neuer Beleuchtung (1942).. hic de Mensuris et Ponderibus tractatus. the historico-dogmatic method.

too. Clear-cut as any diamond. Bernard. To the throng. Böckh also set down a fundamental statement. which was used by metrologists for the following hundred years. keeping in mind that reason under attack can rely only on its own strength. Having determined which was the basic ruler. more unified and practical primer than those written by my predecessors. De Sanctis and Eduard Meyer without having even an inkling of the method and the achievements of this discipline. The situation clearly indicates that today one must start at the point where Greaves and Bernard and Böckh. with trembling hands Began to work his problems anew. yet they changed the world. I have succeeded in what has been the aim of all major metrologists beginning with Newton. Picard in France—all glory to her name Who is herself a light among all lands Had measured earth’s diameter once more With exquisite precision. Luckily I am in the condition of writing a clearer. deliberately set down his main work in the form of a primer (Non pompae sed usui destinatus). in a small glistening fact. in spite of the incredible wealth of information he had accumulated. new hope. One encouraging aspect of metrology is that the more investigations progress. that of explaining all measures on the basis of a single unit of length. References . like the point Of light that shows where constellations burn. and to him Loaded with all significance. I have been able to trace the few simple formulas by which there derived all measures of volume and weight. Those few correct ciphers. Were less than nothing. I can utilize all the accumulation of data provided by the unfolding of scholarship since Böckh’s time. I have to proceed in the same way. The majority of scholars of the present generation accepts the condemnation of metrology by such authorities as Beloch. For Newton seized them and. Even though my description is purely factual and intended to provide a practical reference handbook. his results. started. and to convince them to look at the data with a spirit similar to that shown by Newton:15 Newton withheld his hope Until the day when light was brought from France.knowledge. the simpler the system becomes. I hope to be able to convince ancient historians that metrology provides sources of information which are exact and reliable beyond hope. I have outlined a structure which by itself proves what marvellous adventure of the human mind metrology was. New light.

Inductive Metrology. 11. 21. Indépendence Roumaine. ZDMG. Watchers of the Sky . 1874-77. Ezio Maria Gray. p. 1906. 1877. Cf. 2. De asse et partibus eius. 2.1. L’invasione tedesca in Italia. Vol. 8. 638. 1925. 13. Beloch’s terminology has been made generally known in Italy by two popular books by Ettore Romagnoli. 1912. p. 9. attacking the philological method in classical studies. I. 12. 184. 4. 7. 1859. 6/19. April. 10. Manuel d’archéologie orientale. 581. England. Alfred Noyes. 1923. This point is made by De Sanctis in the preface to Atthis. Ancient Weights and Measures. Essai sur les systèmes métriques et monétaires des anciens peoples depuis les premiers temps jusqu’à la fin du Khalifat d’Orient. 4. 6. 78. 3. 1916. 1915. 1924. p. 15. 14. Nazional-fascismo. Lo Scimmione in Italia andMinerva e lo scimmione. Geschichte des Altertums. Irrealtà Nazionalista. 5. pp. 66.