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Full text of "The Legacy Of Egypt"

176                                   Science
used. A small balance from Tell el-'Amarna consisting of a beam
and two pans (c. 1350 B.C.) may be seen in the South Kensington
Museum. The four strings from each pan pass through an
aperture bored in the end of the beam and are brought out
through a hole in the upper surface of the beam, where they
are knotted together. In the larger standard balance the beam
ended in a flange in the form of a lotus which served to keep the
beam-radius the same whatever the tilt of the beam, and made
for greater accuracy. This type persisted until Roman times.
Large numbers of weights have been discovered, but only a
few of these are stamped with the weight value, and with the
exception of two or three specimens, the standard is not indi-
cated. A study of the available material points to the use of
several standards at the same time in different parts of the
country. A complex system of weights exists in Egypt to the
present day.
The most important lineal unit was the royal cubit1 of 20-62
inches, divided into 7 palms or 28 digits. This was the side of
a square of which the diagonal was 29-161 inches, the basis of
land measure—the principal unit being the reman, half this
diagonal. The relation enabled areas to be halved or doubled
without altering the proportions. The short cubit (17*72 inches)
was divided into 6 palms. Hence the 'cubit and an hand-
breadth' of Ezekiel (chap, xl, verse 5) emphasizing the use of
the royal cubit.
The principal capacity measure (the hen) held water weighing
5 debens. The deben was the weight (1,470 grains) of the anklet
of the same name, of which the tenth part was the qedet, the
weight of the finger ring.
Despite the variety of standards, the importance of main-
taining standards of reference was recognized. The deceased
1 From Lat. cubitum, elbow. The cubit being the length from the elbow
to the tip of the middle finger is represented as a hieroglyph by the forearm
and hand *—-&