Stadion (unit of length)

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The stadion, Latinized as stadium and anglicized as stade, is an ancient Greek unit of length. According to Herodotus, one stade is equal to 600 feet. However, there were several different lengths of “feet”, depending on the country of origin.

Stade name Length (approximate) Description
Itinerary 157 m used in measuring the distance of a journey.[1]
Olympic 176 m 600 × 294 mm
Attic/Italic 185 m 600 × 308 mm
Babylonian-Persian 196 m 600 × 327 mm
Phoenician-Egyptian 209 m 600 × 349 mm

Which measure of the stadia is used can affect the interpretation of ancient texts. For example, the error in the calculation of the circumference of the Earth by Eratosthenes[2] or Posidonius is dependent on which stade is chosen to be appropriate.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hoyle, Fred Astronomy, Rathbone Books Limited, London 1962 LC 62-14108
  2. ^ Walkup, Newlyn (2005). "Eratosthenes and the Mystery of the Stades". The MAA Mathematical Sciences Digital Library. Retrieved 2008-07-29. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Engels, Donald (1985). "The Length of Eratosthenes' Stade". American Journal of Philology (The Johns Hopkins University Press) 106 (3): 298–311. doi:10.2307/295030. JSTOR 295030. 
  • Gulbekian, Edward (1987). "The Origin and Value of the Stadion Unit used by Eratosthenes in the Third Century BC". Archive for History of Exact Sciences 37: 359–363. doi:10.1007/BF00417008.