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Stadion (unit)

The stadion (plural stadia, Greek: στάδιον;[1] latinized as stadium), also anglicized as stade, was an ancient Greek unit of length, consisting of 600 Ancient Greek feet (podes). Its exact length is unknown today; historians estimate it at between 150 m and 210 m.

Calculations

According to Herodotus, one stadium was equal to 600 Greek feet (podes). 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]

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 metres (172.5 yd).[2] Various equivalent lengths have been proposed, and some have been named.[4] Among them are:

Stade name Length (approximate) Description Proposed by
metres yards
Itinerary 157 m 172 yd used in measuring the distance of a journey.[5] Jean Antoine Letronne, 1816[2]
Olympic 192 m[6] 210 yd 200 Heracles steps Carl Ferdinand Friedrich Lehmann-Haupt, 1929[4][7]
Ptolemaic[8] or Attic 185 m 202 yd 600 × 308 mm Otto Cuntz, 1923;[4][8] D.R. Dicks, 1960[3][9]
Babylonian-Persian 196 m 214 yd 600 × 327 mm Lehmann-Haupt, 1929[4][7]
Phoenician-Egyptian 209 m 229 yd 600 × 349 mm Lehmann-Haupt, 1929[4][7]

Which measure of the stadion is used can affect the interpretation of ancient texts. For example, the error in the calculation of Earth's circumference by Eratosthenes[10] or Posidonius is dependent on which stadion is chosen to be appropriate.

Other uses

From the Middle Ages on, the word stadium has been used as a synonym for the furlong (which is 220 yards, equal to one eighth of a mile), which is of Old English origin.[11]

See also

References

  1. ^ στάδιον. Liddell, Henry George; Scott, Robert; A Greek–English Lexicon at the Perseus Project.
  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. ^ "stade - measurement". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2022-06-07.
  7. ^ 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).
  8. ^ 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).
  9. ^ 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.
  10. ^ Walkup, Newlyn (2005). "Eratosthenes and the Mystery of the Stades". The MAA Mathematical Sciences Digital Library. Retrieved 2008-07-29.
  11. ^ Pausanias (2012-05-17). Pausanias's Description of Greece. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9781108047241.
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Stadion (unit)
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