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Even though early Babylonian and Egyptian records show that there have been measuring systems long before 3000 B.C., the earliest standardized measurement belonged to the Egyptians. In order to have a standard length for a cubit, the length from the elbow to the extended fingertips, the Egyptians created a black granite rod of the royal cubit, placed in the city square.
The Egyptians were not able to monopolize the measuring system. The Babylonians also devised measures stemming from a cubit, though 6 mm longer than that of the Egyptians. This cubit was then divided into 30 kus, roughly equal to a digit.
The earliest known decimal system is the Harappan system; from 2500 B.C. to 1700 B.C. Evidence suggests that they had two different series of weights. One system was based on a measurement of the Indus inch (1.32 modern inches). Since their system was based on base-10, ten Indus inches equaled 13.2 inches, the measure of a foot. The other scale was discovered in the form of a bronze rod with markings of 0.367 in. 100 units of that would be 36.7 inches, approximately the length of a stride. Measurements of the Harappan ruins show that they used these measurements extremely accurately.
European systems of measurement were based on the Roman system. The Romans, in turn, borrowed their measurements from the Greeks, who had based it on the Babylonians and the Egyptians. Their base unit was the breadth of a finger. Unlike the other cultures, they only had three widely used units of measurement: the finger, the foot and the Greek cubit. ...
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