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caesar novus

Persistance of Roman foot measurements

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I've been surprised to see first the survival of Roman based measurements in the modern world, and more recently a driving out of metrics in favor of feet. This in the world of tech and for utilitarian, not ideological reasons. First a reminder of a Roman foot being 12 thumbs or 16 fingers wide, and a tad smaller than modern feet https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancient_Roman_units_of_measurement#Length

A big move back to feet came to my attention from an airline pilot who said the metric system for flight level assignments is vanishing, now limited to North Korea and some backwaters of China. Surely this must be due to the elegant way you can allocate altitudes based on odd or even thousands of feet for going east vs west without interference. It turns out a perfect round numbered separation distance, which turns out very messy in metersĀ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flight_level#Semicircular/hemispheric_rule

The above reference shows umpteen exceptions, but in the pilots global experience the foot is back in charge. I suppose the exception for Italy and New Zealand may persist, which still uses thousands of feet, but applies even and odd for north vs south flights due to the elongation of those countries. The UK had a fancy 4 direction rule, but standardized to the norm 5 years ago.

Another area of feet is catamaran length. France dominates the world large catamaran yacht market due to a drastic tax favoratism/shelter scheme. But using round meters on these represents a colossal jump in size, due to the way width and capacity scales. So they use more granular feet, like a Lagoon 42 vs a Lagoon 45. Other yachts often seem to be labeled in decimeters, but that seems too fussy to remember distinctions of every 4 inches.

I first noticed this oddity when I used to buy French tablets. Inches persist as a diagonal screen measure, I guess for TV's as well. Rome had very useful divisions of measure based on a scale humans could relate to. Having things divisible by ten is good, but the metric units can seem odd. Who thought of a tiny gram as standard, so that any useful amount of things have to start with kilograms. Let's remake metrics with Roman units, like kilofeet or centifeet?

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