alto palmo uno ed once nove


Senior Member
This 1839 description of a 'Vaso cilindrico di piombo' found in Pompei gives its dimensions as
Alto palmo uno ed once nove, per palmo uno e once otto di diametro.

It seems that at some point the palmo was standardized in Naples at 26,4 cm ( Anybody knows what once nove and once otto would be?

Thanks very much in advance.
  • rainbowizard

    Senior Member
    Italian - Italy
    I cannot say for sure but one "oncia", when directly referred to a prime unit (as "palmo" in your excerpt) should be intended as 1/12 part of that prime misure.
    So, in your example "palmo uno ed once nove" should be "1.75 palmi" that is 1 palmo + 9/12 palmo. "palmo uno ed once otto" should be approx "1.67 palmi" that's 1 palmo + 8/12 palmo.

    Anyway these are pretty old standards and are now completely substituted by the MKS system.

    london calling

    Senior Member
    UK English
    TheChabon, see this Wiki article, I quote: :)

    Ancient Roman units of length
    Name Latin name Equivalent Roman value Metric equivalent
    Digit Inch Palm Foot
    Digit digitus 1 34 14 116 18.5 mm
    Inch uncia orpollex 113 1 13 112 24.6 mm
    Palm palmus minor 4 3 1 14 74 mm
    Great palm palmus major 12 9 3 34 222 mm
    Foot pes 16 12 4 1 296 mm
    Foot + palm palmipes 20 15 5 114 370 mm
    Cubit cubitus 24 18 6 1 12 444 mm
    Metric equivalents are based on the estimated value 1 pes = 296 mm[4]


    Senior Member
    Thanks very much for both replies. I discovered a whole world I was not remotely aware of.

    With nine inch 'great palms' he would not have said palmo uno ed once nove but two palms. Soperhaps '1/12 palmo' is what the author was meaning here --or alternatively, the 26,4 cm palm is a 10 inch palm --sometimes engineers and technicians went decimal.

    If I ever get to any certainty I'll post back.
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