Stadion (unit)

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"Stadia (unit of length)" redirects here. For the land surveyor's device, see Stadia rod. For other uses, see Stadion (disambiguation).

The stadion (Greek: στάδιον;[1] Latin: stadium), formerly also anglicized as stade, was an ancient Greek unit of length, based on the length of a typical sports stadium of the time. According to Herodotus, one stadion was equal to 600 Greek feet (pous). However, the length of the foot varied in different parts of the Greek world, and the length of the stadion has been the subject of argument and hypothesis for hundreds of years.[2][3] Various hypothetical equivalent lengths have been proposed, and some have been named.[4] Among them are:

Stade name Length (approximate) Description Proposed by
Itinerary 157 m used in measuring the distance of a journey.[5] Jean Antoine Letronne, 1816[2]
Olympic 176 m 600 × 294 mm Carl Ferdinand Friedrich Lehmann-Haupt, 1929[4][6]
Ptolemaic[7] or Attic 185 m 600 × 308 mm Otto Cuntz (de), 1923;[4][7] D.R. Dicks, 1960[3][8]
Babylonian-Persian 196 m 600 × 327 mm Lehmann-Haupt, 1929[4][6]
Phoenician-Egyptian 209 m 600 × 349 mm Lehmann-Haupt, 1929[4][6]

An empirical determination of the length of the stadion was made by Lev Vasilevich Firsov, who compared 81 distances given by Eratosthenes and Strabo with the straight-line distances measured by modern methods, and averaged the results. He obtained a result of about 157.7 m.[2]

Which measure of the stadion is used can affect the interpretation of ancient texts. For example, the error in the calculation of the circumference of the Earth by Eratosthenes[9] or Posidonius is dependent on which stade is chosen to be appropriate.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Στάδιον, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus
  2. ^ a b c Donald Engels (1985). The Length of Eratosthenes' Stade. American Journal of Philology 106 (3): 298–311. doi:10.2307/295030 (subscription required).
  3. ^ a b J. L. Berggren, Alexander Jones (2000). Ptolemy's Geography: An Annotated Translation of the Theoretical Chapters. Princeton: Princeton University Press. ISBN 9780691010427.
  4. ^ a b c d e Edward Gulbekian (1987). The Origin and Value of the Stadion Unit used by Eratosthenes in the Third Century BC. Archive for History of Exact Sciences 37 (4): 359–363. doi:10.1007/BF00417008. (subscription required).
  5. ^ Hoyle, Fred Astronomy, Rathbone Books Limited, London 1962 LC 62-14108
  6. ^ a b c C.F. Lehmann-Haupt (1929) "Stadion"; in August Friedrich von Pauly (ed.), Paulys Real-Encyclopädie der classischen Altertumswissenschaft. Stuttgart: Metzler; cited in: Edward Gulbekian (1987). The Origin and Value of the Stadion Unit used by Eratosthenes in the Third Century BC. Archive for History of Exact Sciences 37 (4): 359–363. doi:10.1007/BF00417008. (subscription required).
  7. ^ a b Otto Cuntz (1923). Die Geographie des Ptolemaeus: Galliae, Germania, Raetia, Noricum, Pannoniae, Illyricum, Italia (in German). Berlin: Weidmann. Cited by: Edward Gulbekian (1987). The Origin and Value of the Stadion Unit used by Eratosthenes in the Third Century BC. Archive for History of Exact Sciences 37 (4): 359–363. doi:10.1007/BF00417008. (subscription required).
  8. ^ D.R. Dicks (1960). The Geographical Fragments of Hipparchus. Edited with an Introduction and Commentary. London: Athlone Press. Cited in: J. L. Berggren, Alexander Jones (2000). Ptolemy's Geography: An Annotated Translation of the Theoretical Chapters. Princeton: Princeton University Press. ISBN 9780691010427.
  9. ^ Walkup, Newlyn (2005). "Eratosthenes and the Mystery of the Stades". The MAA Mathematical Sciences Digital Library. Retrieved 2008-07-29.