The Metrological Relief

(Ashmolean Museum, Oxford; number: AN.Michaelis 83)

  What measurements does it show?
  The Metrological Relief (a000103)
  • In many civilisations standard units of measurement have been based on parts of the human body (and the study of systems of measurement is known as metrology). Many of these are to be found here:
  • Outstretched arms: a fathom (normally 6 feet, but here 7 times the foot shown on the relief), which is 2.08 metres here (assuming the relief to have been symmetrical)
The Ell (a000189)
  • Elbow to fingertip: an ell (or cubit), which is 52 cm here (and there are four of them in the fathom). This is in fact the usual measurement not of the standard cubit, but of the royal cubit (a hand's breadth in addition to the forearm measurement of the standard cubit): which shows how distorted the figure really is -- in real life his hands would probably have touched his knees.
The Foot (a000190)
  • A foot (over the right arm), which is here 29.7 cm.
The Clenched Fist (a000191)
  • A clenched fist (beneath the right wrist), which is here 11 cm.
Fingers (a000192)
  • Fingers, here 1.85-2cm.
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Last updated: jcm/18-oct-1999

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