A joint investigation has dismantled the theory that ancient merchants could only roughly estimate the amount of content that fit inside the containers they used to sell their goods. The study was carried out by Professors Benensonand and Israel Finkelstein from the Department of Archeology and Ancient Cultures at Tel-Aviv University.
During the last few years, archaeologists they have found several clay jugs that the ancient traders used to sell oil, wine and other valuable products. Professor Itzhak Benenson established that vendors were unable to know exactly how much each of these containers would fit. However, Benensonand and Finkelstein have found that had accurate measurements of their products, so they knew exactly how much to charge their customers.
The researchers found that merchants devised convenient mathematical systems to determine the volume of each container. His theory is that the original owners and users of the jugs measured their contents through a system that linked the units of length with the units of volume. Most likely by using a rope They knew the length of the circumference of the container, with which they could determine the exact amount of liquid that was inside.
The measurement system was revealed when mathematician Elena Zapassky built 3D models of Tel Megiddo's jars, an important Canaanite city-state. The team measured the containers of hundreds of Phoenician ships and discovered something surprising: they all had a similar circumference. This data led the researchers to take a deep look at how ancient traders measured volume.
Dr. Yuval Gadot explains that the Egyptian unit of volume was called "hekat" and it was equivalent to 4.8 liters today. The jars found 52 centimeters in circumference, which is equivalent to an Egyptian royal ulna, contain exactly half a hekat.
When researchers adopted the Egyptian system of measurement, many things began to become clear. For example, the tall containers that Phoenician ships were transporting in the 8th century BC.. they contain whole units of hekats. According to Gadot, the Egyptian system was disappearing as the Assyrians expanded, since they had their own measurement methods.
Professor Finkelstein believes that ancient world standardization elements are interesting in that they are indicative of the strength of bureaucratic systems and reflect the political and cultural influences: “The use of the Egyptian method is a strong indicator of Egyptian power in this region during a specific period of time. Working together with experts in mathematics and statistics, we have been able to provide new solutions to problems and debates that have plagued us for years.”.
Passionate about History, he has a degree in Journalism and Audiovisual Communication. Since he was a child he loved history and ended up exploring the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries above all.