Chapter 7: Measuring: Indicators – Scales – Indices – Interpretations
Wolfgang Meyer Let us start right at the beginning: two cavemen run into each other and one asks the other how far it is to his cave. What do you think his answer was? Well, it certainly was not ‘200 metres’, as it might be today in most countries in the world, because the metre as a unit of measurement has only existed for a little over 200 years. And he wouldn’t have said 660 feet or 190 yards, or even 1000 dactylos1 or 250 dhira,2 in spite of the fact these units of length measurement came into use much earlier. Nevertheless, we may suppose that even the cave-dwellers – presumably even before they had any command of language – communicated with one another about distances. In very early times, for example, this would have been a matter of survival when they went hunting together. Whatever that unit of measurement looked like, it is sure to have had a few things in common with the ‘modern’ units mentioned above: ● ● ● ● It will have been an indicator for the estimation of distances, which will have been based on easily available standards for comparison (for example, parts of the human body such as feet or hands, or objects found in nature such as willow rods or animal bones). The basics of comparing with the aid of indicators will be looked at in section 7.1. The indicator will presumably have been based on a common scale known to all those involved, which made it possible...
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