Boucher’s observations and equations are impressive and meticulously recorded in his extensive tables of data, illustrations of astronomical phenomena, his own constructed pendulum apparatus, and illustrations of ancient measurement standards. Boucher works to derive units of length through the pendulum, but most of the surviving units are volume and weight (thankfully, these are derived from the units of length). Some readers may wish for deeper exploration of historical literature: though Boucher does cite a limited number of texts, credible assurance that his measurement standards are authoritative would bolster his argument, as would documentary evidence of the use of pendulums in measurement.
Despite the technical nature of this work, Boucher takes care to define terms clearly and walk readers through the basics of determining length from a pendulum. He also clearly illustrates how this history began with the ancient Sumerians but continues to impact us even today, through the imperial system of measurement. Ancient Measurement expertly traces how past engineers would have been able to use celestial observation and the pendulum to create accurate and reproducible units of measurement, foundational elements of commerce and civilization.
Takeaway: The engineering-minded historian will find this theory of ancient measurements illuminating and well analyzed.
Great for fans of: David Rooney’s About Time: A History of Civilization in Twelve Clocks, Simon Winchester’s The Perfectionists.
Design and typography: B
Marketing copy: A-
Ancient Measurement a book by Roland Boucher will be featured by the YaleScience and Engineering Association in this years "FALL INTO BOOKS SERIES" Zoom Presentation on October 14 at 7pm east coast time