The Stade was an ancient Greek measurement of distance. The origins of the stade are not clear. One opinion claims that at first, it was the distance covered by a plough before turning. Later it was the length of a foot race in a Greek Stadion (Roman Stadium) or 157 meters. Different ‘standard’ stadia existed in various city-states of ancient Greece ranging from 157 to 211 meters.
Some commentators have treated the stade as a synonym for the British ‘furlong’ (one eight a mile or 220 yards – approximately 201 metres), which was an old Anglo-Saxon measure for a ‘long furrow’.
Nick Kollerstrom has published a paper on Graham Hancock’s website arguing that “Mother Earth was clearly the source of the Greek stade, though the ancient Greek philosophers do not seem to have been aware of this fact.”(e)
Most commentators on Plato’s Atlantis seem to accept a value of 185 metres (607 feet) to the stade. Thorwald C.Franke argues for a value of 176 metres – ” It is confusing: The building called “stadion” had been 185 meters, but the measure “stadion” not. We can conclude that the Athenians once had a shorter building, but decided to build a bigger building in later times. It is the same story for the “stadion” of other cities.” (private correspondence)
>The problem that has arisen is that irrespective of whichever stade was used by Plato, the resulting dimensions suggested by him are unacceptably large. This has led quite a number of commentators to suggest that Plato’s use of the stade was possibly due to some misunderstanding or transcription error and have striven to find a more credible unit of measurement.<
Jim Allen who is the leading advocate for a Bolivian location for Atlantis has used a value for the stade that is half the conventionally accepted 185 metres. He bases this on the fact that the ancient South Americans used a base of 20 rather than 10 for counting. He offers an interesting article with impressive images on his website(a) in support of his contention.
Dr Rainer Kühne, who recently publicised that a site in Andalusia, identified by Werner Wickboldt from satellite photos, suggested that Plato used a stade that was probably 20% longer than what is normally accepted since the dimensions of the Spanish site are greater than those given in Plato’s text. This idea is not satisfactory as so many other dimensions of the city’s features already suggest over-engineering on a colossal scale. To add a further 20% would be even more ridiculous.
If the dimensions of Atlantis did originate on the pillars in the temple at Sais, the unit of measurement used was probably Egyptian (or Atlantean) and so their exact value must be open to question. The values given by Plato relating to Atlantis have long been ammunition for sceptics. They argue that Plato’s topographical data suggests either a degree of over-engineering that was improbable in the Bronze Age or impossible in the Stone Age and must, therefore, be a fantasy.
In the 1930s and 1940s, there was a degree of confusion among those reluctant to accept that the Greek ‘stade’ was a reliable unit of measurement for the architectural features described by Plato in Atlantis. Alexander Braghine in 1940, seems to have the matter entirely confused when he wrote [156.58] about Albert Hermann‘s proposal of 1934 that the unit of measurement used by the Egyptians to describe Atlantis was the ‘shoinos’, which Braghine noted is 604 times shorter than a stade, which is completely wrong or just a misprint that should read 60! Earlier in 1937 James Bramwell also commented on Hermann’s suggestion that it was the Egyptian ‘schoinos’, which is equivalent to 30 stadia [195.117].
William Smith’s Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, noted that “SCHOENUS (?, ?, ???????), literally, a rope of rushes, an Egyptian and Persian itinerary and land measure (Herod. i. 66). Its length is stated by Herodotus (ii. 6, 9) at 60 stadia, or 2 parasangs; by Eratosthenes at 40 stadia, and by others at 112 or 30. (Plin. H. N. v. 9. s. 10, xii. 14. s. 30.) Strabo and Pliny both state that the schoenus varied in different parts of Egypt and Persia. (Strabo, p. 803; Plin. H. N. vi. 26. s 30; comp Athen. iii. p. 122, a.) [–Phillip Smith]”
>An award-winning paper by Newly Walkup discusses in detail Eratosthenes attempt to measure the circumference of the Earth(f).<
Today, Wikipedia proposes a conversion rate of 40 schoeni to the stade(c).
The late Ulf Richter proposed a simple solution to this problem(b), namely that the unit of measurement originally recorded was the Egyptian Khet. This was equivalent to 52.4 metres or approximately 3.5 times less than the value of the stade. The acceptance of this rational explanation removes one of the great objections to the veracity of the Atlantis narrative.
>The most recent entrant into this particular debate is M.P. Courville [1960.10] who has proposed that Plato intended to use the plethrum, which is around 30 metres long or very roughly one-fifth the length of a stade. The problem arising from that idea is that Plato also uses the plethrum together with the stade in contexts where they both seem too large (Crit.116a & 118c)!<
Jean-Pierre Pätznick commented in a paper on the Academia.edu website that “the 10,000-stadia ditch that would have surrounded the great plain on three sides would in fact have measured 1850 km long, 30.80 m deep and 185 m wide. A colossal structure that would have been 23 times larger than the Panama Canal and nearly 10 times larger than that of the Suez Canal!”(d)
It seems that all of Plato’s numbers, or at least all the larger ones, appear to be exaggerations and in my opinion, should be reduced by a common factor to bring them in line with credibility. I have elaborated more fully on this in Joining the Dots.
(d) (99+) (PDF) Atlantis: ‘Lost in Translations’ – In Search of the Egyptian Version | Jean-Pierre PÄTZNICK – Academia.edu (French with English translation available)