How Were Things Measured and Weighed in Ancient Times?

In ancient times, the need to measure and weigh objects was just as important as it is today. However, the methods used to achieve this were vastly different from the technological advancements we have at our disposal in modern times. Let’s take a look at some of the ways things were measured and weighed in ancient times.

Measurement in Ancient Egypt

In ancient Egypt, the cubit was a standard unit of measurement. It was based on the length of a forearm from elbow to fingertips and was used for measuring everything from rope to land. The royal cubit was slightly longer and more precise than the ordinary cubit.

The Greek Influence

The Greeks made significant contributions to the world of measurement. They developed a system based on body parts, similar to that of the Egyptians.

However, they also introduced more standardized units such as the foot and inch. The Greeks were also responsible for introducing geometry, which allowed them to calculate area and volume.

Roman Numerals

The Romans used a system of measurement based on body parts similar to that of the Greeks but with their own unique twist. They introduced Roman numerals, which were used for counting and measuring everything from distance to weight.

Weighing Objects

In ancient times, weighing objects was just as important as measuring them. Here are some ways that people would weigh objects back then:

  • Balance Scales: This involved placing an object on one side of a balance scale and counterbalancing it with weights on the other side.
  • Spring Scales: Spring scales worked by using a spring that would stretch or compress depending on how much weight was placed on it.
  • Beaded Scales: Beaded scales consisted of beads threaded onto strings that were attached to a beam. The weight of the object would cause the beam to tilt, allowing the user to determine its weight based on where the beads settled.


While the methods used to measure and weigh objects in ancient times may seem primitive compared to our modern technology, they were still effective. The ingenuity of ancient civilizations allowed them to develop systems that worked for their needs and provided a foundation for measurement and weighing that we continue to use today.