How Were Things Measured and Weight in Ancient Times?

In ancient times, measuring and weighing things was not as easy as it is today. The methods used were often rudimentary but effective for their time. Here, we will explore how people in ancient times measured and weighed items.

Ancient Measurement Systems

One of the most well-known ancient measurement systems was the Egyptian cubit. The cubit was a unit of measure based on the length of a person’s forearm from the elbow to the tip of their middle finger. This system was widely used in ancient Egypt and parts of the Near East.

Another ancient measurement system was the Roman foot, which was based on the length of a person’s foot. These units were used in architecture and construction, and some buildings constructed during that time still stand today.

The Balance Scale

One of the most commonly used tools for measuring weight in ancient times was the balance scale. This tool consisted of two pans suspended from a central beam. Objects of unknown weight were placed on one pan, while known weights were placed on the other until both pans balanced.

The Egyptians are credited with inventing this tool around 2500 BCE, but it was also used by many other cultures including the Greeks and Romans.

The Water Clock

Another method used to measure time in ancient times was the water clock or clepsydra. This device consisted of a container filled with water that would slowly drip out at a constant rate through a small hole. Markings on the container would indicate hours or minutes passing by measuring how much water had dripped out.

The water clock was invented by various civilizations including Ancient Greece, China, and Persia.


In conclusion, people in ancient times had various methods for measuring and weighing objects. The Egyptian cubit and Roman foot were popular measurement systems while tools like balance scales and water clocks were commonly used to measure weight and time. These methods may have been rudimentary by modern standards, but they were effective for their time and paved the way for the more advanced measuring tools we use today.