metretes [Greek, μετρητής]

An ancient Greek unit of capacity, = 144 kotylai, about 39.4 liters (10 U.S. gallons). chart symbol

The metretes occurs in the Bible, in John 2:6, which the King James version renders as “2 or 3 firkins” and the Revised Standard Version as “20 or 30 gallons.”

The metretes was also used in Egypt during Ptolemaic and Roman times.



In Archiv f. Papyrusforschung 45.1 (1999), 96-127, we attempt to demonstrate that from the 4th century A.D. onwards in Egypt the chous, standing as a metrological unit in between the kotyle and the metretes (144 kotylai = 12 choes = 1 metretes), disappears completely from the Greek documents from Egypt (likewise, the kotyle and the metretes also disappear).

N. Kruit and K. A. Worp.
Mnemosyne, vol 53, fasc. 3 (2000).
The authors question the translation quoted in their title, of a potter's contract in P. Oxy. LVIII 3942.

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