Historical Metrology

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Metrology, Historical


a subsidiary historical discipline that studies the fundamental units of length, area, volume, mass, and so on; systems of units (measures) formerly or currently in use in various countries; and the development of monetary units throughout their history.

The task of historical metrology is to clarify the relationships among units, to express them in modern units, and to study the origin of their names. Historical metrology is necessary in the study of the history of economics, law, material culture, and contacts among nations, since the development of systems of units results from the growth of productive forces and accompanies the broadening of international relations. With the spread of the metric system, the number of countries using their own special units has gradually diminished, and the future task of historical metrology is being reduced to the study of obsolete units. The history of monetary units is also studied in numismatics.


Petrushevskii, F. I. Obshchaia metrologiia, parts 1–2. St. Petersburg, 1849.
Babenko, I. P. Monety, mery i vesy vsekh stran i narodov (v sravnenii s russkimi). St. Petersburg, 1905.
Cherepnin, L. V. Russkaia metrologiia. Moscow, 1944.
Kamentseva, E. I., and N. V. Ustiugov. Russkaia metrologiia, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1975.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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Appendices are included on technical aspects such as molds and curves and a bibliography of historical metrology. Over 50 color plates supplement the text.

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