# Historical Volume or Capacity

## Abstract

Volume was an historical base measurement unit for all types of fluids, granular solids, and objects. Capacity is the maximum capability of a tank, vessel, or other container to hold a given volume of material. Capacities are generally measured in the same units as volume. This chapter addresses both volume and capacity units. Units appropriate for everyday use are most commonly cubes of small linear measurement units and/or have their own set of unit definitions and names, such as those for cooking. Larger units are driven by industry, commerce, or science and are normally expressed as cubes of linear or spherical dimensions. Extremely small units are based on cubes of linear or spherical measures as driven by scientific needs. The development of methods for calculating volumes is discussed as it has progressed from simple concepts involving basic shapes to integral calculus applied to complex shapes. Methods for measurement of volume are reviewed, including direct linear measurement of an object with subsequent calculation, use of standardized measuring devices (cups, spoons, tanks, etc.), and integration of volumetric flow rates entering a container over time. Extensive listings of conversion factors for historical units to modern volume units are provided for various locales and eras in world history.

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