The people of Mesoamerica are said to have used the Babylonian cubit as a standard measure in their construction projects. If true, this is another correlation between the ancient Americans and Mesopotamia, lending credence to my theory of Jaredite origins in Sumeria.
Archaeologist V. Garth Norman, writing for the Ancient America Foundation (also in the Book of MormonArchaeological Forum), claims that all the ancient monuments that he has investigated in Mesoamerica appear to have been constructed using the Babylonian cubit of 49.5 cm.
Norman began his studies at the site of Izapa, in Chiapas, and later studied measurements at many other sites and museums. All his measurements appeared to be consistent using a standard unit of length.
Discussing his discovery Norman relates: “During an eleven year study of the Izapa Project (1965-1976), Southern Mexico with the BYU-New World Archaeological Foundation (NWAF), I produced accurate drawings of all the Izapa monuments ... On my numerous trips to Izapa ... I started measuring glyphs and figures as well as distances between sky and base panels on the low relief carvings. During my Izapa sculpture study ... I measured comparable figures on different monuments as well as distances between sky and base panels and discovered consistent dimensions. This implied the use of a standard measure ... In the final analysis I decoded two Izapa standards -- 49.5 cm. and 52.5 cm. ... I found that the prevailing standard measures were used in divisions of half, quarter, eighth, sixteenth, etc. In later comparative library study I was startled to find that these two standards were identical to the Royal Babylonian and Royal Egyptian cubits!”
Norman then goes on to correlate his findings with measurements used in Israel, which he feels link the Mesoamerican sites with the Nephites, whose origin was, of course, in Jerusalem. However, I feel it is much more logical to link the sites with the Jaredites who originated in Sumer. They would have been familiar with such standard measurements, which were probably developed by the Sumerians.
The cubit measure was apparently an early invention by the Sumeria craftsmen. They subsequently passed on this knowledge to neighboring cultures. We have several examples of these ancient tools, one from Sumer, and another from Egypt.
|Nippur Cubit Rod from Wikipedia Commons|
In 1916 a German Assyriologist, excavating at the ancient Sumerian site of Nippur, found a graduated copper-alloy bar. He claimed that it was an ancient Sumerian cubit measure. It measured the cubit as 51.86 cm. I have been unable to find a date for this ruler, but the site of Nippur was flourishing about 2000 BC.
|Egyptian Cubit Rod from Wikipedia Commons|
The second is found in the Louvre Museum in Paris. It is from the time of Tutankhamun (about 1300 BC). It measures 52.3 cm long.
These measurements are not exactly equivalent to Norman's findings, however are fairly close. There seems to be a great deal of variation in reported cubit lengths measuring anywhere from 46 to 52.5 cm.
There is an excellent site dealing specifically with the cubit, it's history and the various lengths used by different groups. It can be found here. One additional item of interest from this site is the Egyptian numbering system. It seems to have similarities with the Mesoamerican system.