Metrology, Coptic


In stone and textile workshops, Coptic probably used sample books with favorite patterns and wooden stencils in order to reproduce certain patterns many times. Both samples and stencils require a general system of measurements, and stonemasons ordered their quarry blocks according to standard sizes.

Some measurements are taken from third- to ninth-century reliefs and textiles in the Museum Simeonstift, Trier, and the Coptic Museum, Cairo, give that Coptic refused the Roman foot of 11 2/3 inches (29.57 cm), but adhered to the royal Egyptian yard of 20 2/3 inches (52.5 cm), the smallest unit being one-fifteenth, that is, 1 1/3 inches (3.5 cm). To what extent, however, there were minor changes of this system due to local Coptic traditions and centers remains doubtful unless large- scale investigations are carried out.

  • Nauerth, C. Textilkunst im spätantiken Ägypten. Trier, 1978.