ARTABĒ, the Greek form of a Median and Old Persian measure of volume. The word appears as a loanword in Achaemenid Elamite (irtiba and variant forms, often preceded by the determinative GIŠ “wood”), Akkadian (ardabu), Aramaic and Demotic (ʾrdb, also irdabb in modern Egypt). To judge by the Persepolis Fortification tablets, 1 artabe = 3 BAR = 30 qa, that is 29.1 liters. According to Herodotus (1.192), the artabē was a Persian measure equal to 1 medimnus and 3 choenices (approx. 55 liters). Suda and Hesychius say that the Median artabē equaled exactly 1 medimnus (approx. 52 liters). The Old Persian form of the word was *ṛdba- according to Hinz, but arta-pā/ă- according to Eilers.



Text references in the Assyrian Dictionary of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago A/II, Chicago, 1968, p. 241.

G. R. Driver, Aramaic Documents of the Fifth Century B.C., Oxford, 1965, pp. 68-69.

W. Eilers in Camb. Hist. Iran III/1, p. 503.

R. T. Hallock, Persepolis Fortification Tablets, Chicago, 1969, n. 705.

W. Hinz, Altiranisches Sprachgut der Nebenüberlieferungen, Wiesbaden, 1975, pp. 204-05 (with previous literature).

(M. A. Dandamayev)

Originally Published: December 15, 1986

Last Updated: August 15, 2011

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