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Ancient Engineering Measurements

  1. Oct 19, 2011 #1
    Not sure where this one should go, please move if this is the wrong forum:

    There is a verse in the Christian Bible where a bowl is described to have the following dimensions:

    10 cubit diameter

    30 cubit circumference

    1 Handsbreadth thickness

    A modern cubit is 18 inches, 1 handsbreadth is 4 inches.

    At face value, the ratio between circumference and diameter is 3...which is not equal to pi. This would mean that the measurements are either incorrect, or that the structure was not made very well.

    On the other hand, if you take the 10 cubit diameter from outer rim to outer rim, and consider the 30 cubit circumference as the circumference of the inner circle, pi = 3.139.

    I am not wanting to start a religious discussion, I am just curious as to whether or not using the diameter from the outer rim and the circumference of the inner rim makes any sense to an engineer....

    Is it likely that measurements like this would be taken? Or is it more likely that either construction and/or the actual values are inaccurate?

    This question arises due to a discussion I am having with a religious colleague who is distressed to hear that the bible predicts that pi = 3.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 19, 2011 #2


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    It doesn't make any sense to me.

    I don't see either scientific or religious value in trying to "explain away" passages like the one you quote by sophistry, or pedantry.
  4. Oct 19, 2011 #3
    I can agree with that. The bible is a collection of legends and fairy tales to me, so I'm not much concerned.
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