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Bill Thayer

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 p137  Article by Philip Smith, B.A., of the University of London
on pp137‑138 of

William Smith, D.C.L., LL.D.:
A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, John Murray, London, 1875.

A′RTABA (ἀρτάβη), a Persian measure of capacity, principally used as a cornº-measure, which contained, according to Herodotus (I.192), 1 medimnus and 3 choenices (Attic), i.e. 51 choenices = 102 Roman sextarii = 12¾ gallons nearly; but, according to Suidas, Hesychius, Polyaenus (Strat. IV.3.32), and Epiphanius (Pond. 24) only 1 Attic medimnus = 96 sextarii = 12 gallons nearly: the latter is, however, only an approximate value.  p138 There was an Egyptian measure of the same name, of which there were two sorts, the old and the new artaba (Didymus, c19). The old artaba contained 4½ Roman modii = 72 sextarii = 9 gallons nearly, according to most writers; but Galen (c5) makes it exactly 5 modii. It was about equal to the Attic metretes; and it was half of the Ptolemaic medimnus, which was to the Attic medimnus as 3 : 2. The later and more common Egyptian artabaº contained 3⅓ modii = 53⅓ sextarii = 6½ gallons about,​a which is so nearly the half of the Persian, that we may fairly suppose that in reality it was the half. It was equal to the Olympic cubic foot. (Rhemn. Fann. Carmen de Pond. et Mens. V.89, 90; Hieron. Ad Ezech. 5; Böckh, Metrolog. Untersuch. pp242, &c., 285; Publ. Econ. of Ath. p93, 2nd ed.; Wurm, De Pond., &c. p133.)

Thayer's Note:

a The approximation is a variable one at that: see for example Bury, History of the Later Roman Empire, p469, note.

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Page updated: 17 Feb 21