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Old World Units of Measure
Found in the Layout Geometry of Prehistoric Earthworks at Newark, Ohio

By Dr James P Scherz

[This article appeared in the Volume 16, Number 1, 2002 issue of the Midwestern Epigraphic Journal.]


A careful survey of the earthworks at Newark Ohio has revealed not only a solution to the ancient Old World geometrical riddle of "Squaring the Circle" by use of rope geometry (associated with legends of the Great Pyramid of Egypt), but also three different units of measure, which were also used together in ancient Egypt (and other lands influenced by that region).

These three units of measure include (1) the common foot, which is derived from the old English foot. Its ancient predecessor was preserved in various lands of the Old World until the adoption of the metric system after the early 1800's. Prof. Stecchini (from M.I.T.), who with a lifetime passion studied ancient metrology, says that same foot that we use today was found in the ancient metrology of Mesopotamia in the third millennium B.C. It also was used in Egypt for the times of the earliest written records. In this paper, I refer to this value of the foot as the "statute foot", since it is the foot used to create the statute mile (5280 ft.) and other land survey units such as the chain and the furlong, which are still very much part of the land survey metrology used in the United States.

Another value of the foot that shows up in Newark is what Prof. Stecchini calls (2) the "geographic foot". It is related to the length of a minute of arc at a latitude which corresponds to that found in lands such as northern Egypt. By definition, there are 6000 geographic feet in a nautical mile (one minute of latitude arc on the surface of the earth). 1/10 of a nautical mile is an ancient land measure called the "geographic stade"--600 geographic feet, or 606 (600 + 6) of our common feet.

The third unit of measure or type of foot that show up at Newark is the value that Prof. Stecchini calls (3) the " royal foot". It is related to the more commonly known "royal cubit", which is the length of the long diagonal of a cube, the sides of which are the royal foot. It is 1 % shorter that the common ft (600 common ft = 600-6 royal ft.)

In the Egyptian records, the term "cubit" refers to both the ratio of the long diagonal of a cube to its side (square root of 3 = 1.73205...), and to the ratio of 3/2 (1.5). To avoid confusion, in this paper I will refer to the ratio of 3/2 as the "musical cubit" since the ratio of 3/2 is properly related to the "fifth" in music, the most pleasing tone within an octave. The ratio 3/2 has nothing to do physically with the geometry of a true cube.

But it does have much to do with how one uses the cube to translate between these three different values of the foot. An in the process, one can also square the circle (create a square with an area equal to a given circle), using only the harmony of the three sinultaneously versions of the foot (to rope surveying accuracy). These various feet were used in northern Africa from the Middle Kington of Egypt to the Roman conquest, when the Roman foot became the standard of land measure.

Prof. Stecchini says that the Greek rulers of Egypt, known as the Ptolemies, took over and preserved the ancient units of measure from their Egyptian predecessors, but never really understood the full harmony of the ancient units.

By the time the Ptolemies were defeated by the Romans, the practicing knowledge of the ancient land measures had fallen into disuse. (This knowledge had probably bee secrets of the guilds of temple priests since earliest of times.) When the old Roman Empire fell to the Christians in about 350 AD, the knowledge of the ancient harmonies of the land measures essentially disappeared entirely or was forced underground by the persecution of pre-Christian religion and teachings--a persecution that continued until the times of Copernicus, Bruno, and Professor Galileo in about year 1600 or our Christian calendar.

After Christians came to political power in about 350 AD, schools and temples run by non-Christians (and some Christians, as well, who did not believe as they should) were attacked and closed. Sacred symbols of various religious competitors were incorporated into the Christian dogma of the devil( from "diva", the name of sacred creator gods from India). A ceremonial number (666) of the Mithraians, their chief religious competitor, was taken as the number of the beast (or devil) who also appeared as the 7-headed snake with horns (the sacred Naga symbol of the East, used to decorate statues of Buddha and Hindu heros). At that time, they also tore Lucifer (the name for the planet Venus) from the skies and sentenced him to live forever in hell with these other creatures and symbols, which must have appeared very strange and frightening to the illiterate minds of the repressed masses of those days.

Yet the ancient land measures survived the religious upheavals and witch hunts of the Dark and Medieval ages. For example, the ancient number of the calendar of the sun (666 of the Mithraians) is preserved in our statute mile yet today. There are 666 royal feet in a furlong of 660 statute feet ( 1/8 of a statute mile). Of course, for survival purposes those who knew of such things would have kept quiet or would have risked being killed as a witch.

The presence of the ancient land measures in the geometry of the Indian mounds of our land suggests that the high ancient knowledge of geometry that once was practiced in the pre-Christian Old World was also known by the high priests of the New World who oversaw the layout of impressive earthworks, such as those at Newark, Ohio. The Newark earthworks are thought to have been built by the so-called "Hopewell Indians" who had a high culture with giant ceremonial sites throughout Ohio (and some of the neighboring states) from about 400 BC to AD 400. This is a period that spanned the rise and fall of the Ptolemy rulers of Egypt, and ends about the time that Christians came to political dominance in what was left of the old Roman Empire.

Symbolically, one of the most notable acts of dominance of the new Christian rule in the Roman Empire was the burning of the Library of Alexandria. Set up by the various rulers of the Ptolemy dynasty, this library was still very much honored by the educated Greeks and Romans and other peoples of the Old World until its Destruction.

The Ptolemy dynasty had been started by Alexander the Great in about 300 BC. It fell when the Romans conquered Egypt about the time of Christ. The Ptolemies were great patrons of ancient knowledge, credited with collecting the material for the Library of Alexandria
The revered library was burned by a Christian mob, led by a local bishop, in about 391 AD. An educated woman (named Hypatia) addressed the mob, trying to dissuade them from their plan of destruction. They flayed her alive with clam shells and set fire to the ancient records and the temple to one of the planets, in which the knowledge of the ancient was stored. Great was the fury of the mob and their leaders against the institutions of the old order. And furious was their propaganda and their attacks against religious competitors who might stand in the way of their political dominance over the land and minds of its inhabitants.

What was once contained in the great collection of ancient knowledge of the world at the Library of Alexandria? We will never know. It went up in smoke. But the ancient harmonies of how the circle of heaven and the land were divided, and how the notes of the musical scales were created to be in harmony with the heaven and earth are with us still. They have survived, along with the angles and distances in certain ancient ceremonial structures, such as the Great Pyramid of Giza, Egypt, and the great Geometrical earthworks in Ohio, the best being the Great Circle and the Octagon Comples at Newark, Ohio

This paper is version one of two versions. This is the short version. The longer version also incudes further analysis of the ancient harmonies associated with the statute foot, the royal foot, the geographic foot, and the dimensions of the earth. It also includes detailed survey data from the Newark earthworks.

Full copies of the short version can be made available to interested parties upon request. Copies of the longer version will also be available upon request, once the first draft has been converted to final form.


      To the officers and members of The Ancient Earthworks Society, and other dedicated volunteers who have helped survey and study the Indian Mounds of Wisconsin. To the late Jan Beaver, to Larry Johns and to Buck Trawicky who have also surveyed or helped survey ancient earthworks in both Wisconsin and Ohio. Special Acknowledgements are in order to Buck Trawicky for his meticulous field work as rodman on our surveys of the Newark Earthworks, which produced the accuracy needed to see the interplay between the units of 600 + 6 and 600 - 6 ft, (as well as the units of 700 +1.5) of our common or statute foot.

To Bob Johnson, of Masonic background and one of the founders of The Ancient Earthworks Society, who upon seeing the geometry unfolding from our surveys of the Indian Mounds, implored us to try to figure out the solution to the ancient riddle of squaring the circle with a rope or compass and straight edge.

To our Native American friends who helped us in our surveying and mapping efforts and our efforts to understand and preserve the ancient Effigy Mounds of Wisconsin--especially Pamita, who met us at the Lizard Mound Site. After introducing himself, he said that old Pauees had been his teacher and instructed him to tell people (who wanted to understand and preserve the mounds) some of the history he thought was appropriate to tell.

To James Marshall of Schaumburg, Illinois, to Bradley Lepper and Shar Hunter of Newark, Ohio, and to the late Jan Beaver, whose grandmother was born in Chillicothe, special acknowledgements and special thanks for their particular help and inspiration.