Re: Strange Maths (was Re: Why not 13 months?)

Mike (
17 Jul 1995 14:41:10 -0400

This rather far-fetched theory of inter-relationship between measurement
units of (apparently) unrelated cultures reminds me of Professor Thom's
theory of a megalithic yard.

Thom, a brilliant surveyor, mapped out scores of megalithic circles
throughout the British Isles and the Atlantic coast of Europe. He came
to the conclusion that a standard "yard" of approximately 0.7 metres was
used. He argued that this meant that all peoples along the Atlantic
coast of Europe were not only of the same culture but had an advanced
enough level of organization to insure standard measurements.

Take 10 paces. Measure the distance covered and divide by 10. Repeat
this experiment with 30 friends. I'll bet the average pace comes out to
be about 0.7 metres. What Thom proved is megalithic builders paced out
their building sites the same way we would today pace out a new garden.

The use of body parts for measuring tools is both logical and common.
Cubits, feet, yards, fathoms, rods, hands and spans have all been in
common use and are all based upon simple, repeatable measurements. Even
allowing for wide variations in body part sizes, as the number of
instances of use multiply (as with a structure the size of a pyramid) the
mean will come to appear as a "standard". This is the nature of statistics.

Michael Manning