Setting forth concepts related to weighing and measuring meant developing both practical and philosophical links with the world. When ancient civilizations used seeds produced in the fertile soils of Mesopotamia to establish the first units of weight, the observations they made in relation to the act of measuring created a springboard for civilizations to thrive. The 2nd millennium BC saw the frontiers of discovery advancing along the trade routes between Mesopotamia and Anatolia.
While the fascination with precision in weighing and measuring continued, there was a corresponding migration of myths from the realms of the gods to the land of mortals, and concepts like truth and justice became associated with the balancing of the suspended pans of weighing scales. In ancient Egypt the sins of the deceased were weighed on a set of scales, while in ancient Greek and Roman cultures, the weighing scale was a symbol of justice and an indispensable illustrative element in the depiction of gods and goddesses. In Byzantine society, too, the act of just and accurate weighing resonated deeply with ethical sensibilities and recalled the weighing of souls. And in the Ottoman Empire, precise weighing represented the foundations of trust, not only in trade but also just as notably in religious life.
“Man is the measure of all things: of the things that are, that they are, of the things that are not, that they are not,” proclaimed Protagoras. The endeavor to measure the world with a handful of units brought forth the capacity to recreate it in the abstract. As the measurement of discovery became the substance of myths, weighing and measuring, beyond being mere physical actions, became an important means of self-expression to those captivated by the universe and what lay beyond the boundaries of knowledge.
With a selection of objects from the Suna and İnan Kıraç Foundation Anatolian Weights and Measures Collection, The Art of Weights and Measures aims to explore, through the eyes of civilizations, gods, merchants, master craftsmen, and their apprentices from the 2nd millennium BC to the present day, how weights and measures have shaped economies, cultures, and intercultural relations, their impact on social dynamics of trust, and their journey towards becoming standardized units.
In a bid to review the International System of Units (SI), the International Bureau of Weights and Measures gathered at the 26th General Conference on Weights and Measures on November 16, 2018. Sixty member states have voted for changing four out of seven basic units of measurement. The kilogram is among the modified. Before describing the key points, let us have a closer look into the kilogram and its history.
Henryk Weyssenhoff, author of landscapes, prints, and illustrations, devoted much of his creative energies to realistic vistas of Belorussia, Lithuania, and Samogitia. A descendant of an ancient noble family which moved east to the newly Polonised Inflanty in the 17th century, the young Henryk was raised to cherish Polish national traditions.
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