Pace (unit)

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A pace (or double-pace or passus) was a measure of distance used in Ancient Rome. It was nominally the measure of a full stride from the position of the heel when it is raised from the ground to the point the same heel is set down again at the end of the step. Thus, a distance can be "paced off" by counting each time the same heel touches ground, or, in other words, every other step. In Rome, this unit was standardized as two gradūs or five Roman feet (about 1.48 metres or 58.1 English inches). There were 1000 passus in one mille, and a mille was sometimes referred to as a mille passuum.

The Byzantine pace or vema (βήμα [ˈvima]) was 2½ feet (pous).[1]

A pace in modern terminology is usually taken as being a single step rather than a double step. It has no formal definition but is taken as around 30 inches[2] (760 mm).


  1. ^ Erich Schilbach, Byzantinische Metrologie, cited by V.L. Ménage, Review of Speros Vryonis, Jr. The decline of medieval Hellenism in Asia Minor and the process of islamization from the eleventh through the fifteenth century, Berkeley, 1971; in Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies (University of London) 36:3 (1973), pp. 659-661. at JSTOR (subscription required)
  2. ^ U.S. Army Map Reading and Navigation, p.5.8, Skyhorse Publishing Inc., 2009 ISBN 1-60239-702-3.

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