The pous (plural: podes) was a unit of length used through much of the Iron Age in Europe and the Ancient Near East.

A pous is a Greek foot. One stadion is always 600 podes, though the length of the pous varies like the Mesopotamian units, where the cubit or ku was divided into four different digits, a thumb, palms, and various hands, fists, spans and quarters. The Greek pous also has long, median and short forms.

Classical orders from the Encyclopedie

Orders of Architecture

Comparative analysis

A pous is divided into digits (daktylos or finger) which are multiplied as shown. Generally the sexagesimal or decimal multiples have Mesopotamian origins while the septenary multiples have Egyptian origins.

Greek measures of short median and long podes can be thought of as based on body measures. Stecchini and others propose the Greek podes are different sizes because they are divided into different numbers of different sized daktylos to facilitate different calculations. The most obvious place to observe the relative difference is in the Greek orders of architecture whose canon of proportions is based on column diameters.

Unit no. of daktylos each daktylo (mm) total (mm)
1 Doric order pous (foot) 1818 324 mm
1 Luwian pous (foot) 17 19 323 mm
1 Attic pous (foot) 1619.275 308.4 mm
1 Minoan pous (foot) 16 19 304 mm
1 Egyptian bd (foot) 16 18.75 300 mm
1 Ionian Order pous (foot) 1618.5 296 mm
1 Roman pes (foot) 1618.5 296 mm
1 Athenian pous (foot) 15 21 315 mm
1 Phoenician (Pele) pous (foot) 15 20 300 mm


Mathematical and metrological references

  • H Arthur Klein (1976). The World of Measurements. Simon and Schuster. 
  • R. A. Cordingley (1951). Norman's Parallel of the Orders of Architecture. Alex Trianti Ltd. 
  • Francis H. Moffitt (1987). Surveying. Harper & Row. ISBN 0-06-044554-8. 
  • Gillings (1972). Mathematics in the time of the Pharaohs. MIT Press. ISBN 0-262-07045-6. 
  • Lucas N. H. Bunt, Phillip S.Jones, Jack D. Bedient (1976). The Historical Roots of Elementary Mathematics. Dover. ISBN 0-486-25563-8. 
  • Somers Clarke and R. Englebach (1990). Ancient Egyptian Construction and Architecture. Dover. ISBN 0-486-26485-8. 
  • Gardiner (1990). Egyptian Grammar. Griffith Institute. ISBN 0-900416-35-1. 

Linguistic references

  • Anne H. Groton (1995). From Alpha to Omega. Focus Information group. ISBN 0-941051-38-2. 
  • J. P. Mallory (1989). In Search of the Indo Europeans. Thames and Hudson. ISBN 0-500-27616-1. 

Classical references

  • Vitruvius (1960). The Ten Books on Architecture. Dover. 
  • Claudias Ptolemy (1991). The Geography. Dover. ISBN 0-486-26896-9. 
  • Herodotus (1952). The History. William Brown. 

Archaeological historical references

  • Michael Grant (1987). The Rise of the Greeks. Charles Scribners Sons. 
  • Lionel Casson (1959). The ancient mariners: seafarers and sea fighters of the Mediterranean in ancient times. Macmillan. 
  • James B. Pritchard (1968). The Ancient Near East. OUP. 
  • Nelson Glueck (1959). Rivers in the Desert. HUC. 

Medieval references

  • Jean Gimpel (1976). The Medieval Machine. Holt Rheinhart & Winston. ISBN 0-03-014636-4. 
  • H Johnathan Riley Smith (1990). The Atlas of the Crusades. Swanston. ISBN 0-7230-0361-0. 
  • Elizabeth Hallam (1986). The Plantagenet Chronicles. Weidenfeld & Nicolson. ISBN 1-55584-018-3. 
  • H.W. Koch (1978). Medieval Warfare. Prentice Hall. ISBN 0-13-573600-5. 
This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Pous. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.

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