Archaeology and Society by Grahame Clark

By Grahame Clark

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B 1 cu IC s a - I . h h d' . 1 1 (cylindric) sUa = the capacity measure of a cylindricalvesse wIt t e ImenSlOns Q: . -'n Since 1 n ::::: 6 meters, it follows that 1 g. ::::: 10 centimeters. Hence~ comcIdentally,. the volume of a cubic sUa was very close to 1 liter. ylonIan m~~e~atICIa~S corn uted the volume of a cylinder by use of the approXImatiOn 1t ::::: 3. er~ ore, t e cyli:dric sUa was counted as 3/4 (::::: 1t/4) of a cubic sUa, or very close to 3/4 of 1 luer. Examples of the use of the cubic sUa can be found, for instance, in five ~ercis~ ~n t~e ~~~ B b I 'an mathematical text Aa 6484, obv.

6' ~ Ik U 100 s. ~ gn. 60, sar ~ gm v 1 Dn. bc. 180 ~ OjO 1 s. v se OjOO,20 gn. Here, the basic unit ofarea measure is the area sar = 1 square ninda. The same diagram is the factor diagram for Old Babylonian and Sumerian volume measures, except that then the basic unit is 1 volume sar = 1 square n .. 1 c. = 1 area sar . 1 cubit. It is even the factor diagram for Old Babylonian/Sumerian brick numbers (see below). The fractions of the sar indicated in the factor diagram were actually borrowed into the system of area/volume/brick measures from the system of weight measures.

4;30 ·60 . 8 1/3 minas· 1 us per man-day = 37;30 talents· 1 us per man-day. = 2·4;30· 8 1/3 minas' 1 dannaper man-day = 1;15 talents' 1 dannaper man-day. One can get a feeling for what this means by recalling that 1 mina:::: 1/2 kg, so that 1 talent:::: 30 kg, and 1;15 talents:::: 37 112 kg. Furthermore, 1 n. :::: 6 m. and 1 danna = 30,00 n. , so that 1 danna:::: 6· 1,800 m. , which is somewhat more than 10 kilometers. Therefore, the Old Babylonian work norm for a man carrying bricks must have amounted to carrying close to 40 kilograms of bricks for more than 10 kilometers every day.

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