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history of metrology in montenegro

The system of measurement existed in Montenegro even in the middle ages. The Charter of Balsa III mentions the gumno and kabao of salt (obsolete units of measurement used in Montenegro, their literal translations are 'threshing floor' and 'bucket' respectively), that were contributed to the Moracnik Monastery by the Lake Skadar.

The Charter of Ivan Crnojevic, that dates back in 1485, reads that each house contributed the Monastery in Cetinje three bremena drva (i.e. bundles of wood). According to the available documents, also the following units of measure were used in Montenegro: lakat (i.e. ell - any of several historical units of measure corresponding roughly to the length of the arm (114 centimeters); literal translation is "elbow"); pedalj (i.e. span - the distance from the tip of the thumb to the tip of the little finger when the hand is fully extended, i.e. a unit of measure equal to about nine inches (23 centimeters)); hvat (literal translation is 'grip'); palac (i.e. inch - literal translation is 'thumb'); arsin (i.e. archine - ell (= 45 inches); tovar (i.e. cartload (100 kg)); korak (i.e. step); stopa (i.e. foot); vagan (i.e. literal translation is 'plate'); krblja; kosa (literal translation is 'scythe'(of meadows/lawns)); oka (i.e. oke (three pounds/pints)); ralo (approx half an acre (of arable land)); motika literal translation is 'hoe' (of hoeing)); kablic (literal translation is 'pail' (of milk)); zban (literal translation is 'wooden keg'(of water)); vlaka (bundle / bale (of hay)); vreca (literal translation is 'sack" (of corn)). Those regions of Montenegro that were under the control of conqueror countries used the units of measure of those countries, such as col (i.e. inch) or meter and alike. An extensive literature witnesses the facts of units of measure that date back to the era of the Romans.

The metric system was established in France in the late 18th century. The need to use the single metric system also in other countries was very obvious in the mid 19th century. The representatives of 17 countries gathered in Paris in the diplomatic Conference on Meter in 1875, and signed the treaty called „Metre Convention“. The signatories decided to establish and fund the standing scientific institute, i.e. the The signatories decided to establish and fund the standing scientific institute, i.e. the International Bureau of Weights and Measures, or BIPM (Bureau International des Poids et Measures ). Montenegro introduced the application of the metric system upon the Decree as of January 01, 1888. However, according to the available archival data, it is evident that "new (French) metric units" were applied already in the first half of the 19th century. The first mention of the notion of "meter" can be found in the letter written by Petar Petrovic Njegos in 1835, by which he informed the Kotor District Captain of the bargain by some Montenegrins on the delivery of "80 nets and some two hundred meters of rope". As for the second half of the 19th century, the attention could be drawn to several more examples of the application of kilogram and meter in the then Montenegro: a document, dating back to 1879, depicts that the Commander of the Montenegrin Army in Metohija commanded the flour intended for the Army was not to be received any longer after weighted by "the light Montenegrin scale" (most probably because it was weighed by okes (obsolete measure of weight used in Montenegro)) "but it will be received after weighed by steelyard, in kilos''. In 1881, the List of Mountains, Hills, and Other Important Places of Montenegro was published, which list indicated all altitudes in the country in meters, and the Instructions for Areas Measuring was issued by the Ministry of Finance in Cetinje in 1894. The trade practiced with neighboring countries influenced the legalization of decimal system of units based on the meter in Montenegro, since those countries had already adopted the metric system. Immediately upon the introduction of the metric system in Montenegro, some Montenegrin towns started to fix prices in such manner they expressed any quantity of goods by the system of units based on metric units, and they were introduced into textbooks for elementary schooling as well. However, as per the Instructions for Areas Measuring, certain metric units that did not belong to the metric system were permissible. Consequently, 'ralo' (half an acre = 2,0233.mē) and 'kosa' (literal translation is "scythe") as measures for land area, as well as 'lakat' (ell - any of several historical units of measure corresponding roughly to the length of the arm (114 centimeters); literal translation is "elbow") as a measure of length were used.

For the purpose of controlling the application of matter of metric system in Montenegro, the Ministry of Interior enacted the regulation that was titled the Rule Book on Measuring Instruments and Measurements, dated November 11, 1903, under which "the sellers that use their own measuring instruments shall be in obligation to submit them to annual verifications, when required by municipal administration". Such verification was to be carried out by "a special commission composed of one commissioner from municipal administration, one clerk, and one expert that shall be nominated by such municipal administration". Some time later, the Ministry of Interior issued the Official Announcement as of May 25, 1906, specifying that, pursuant to the Law on Town Municipality Development, such authorities "shall undertake to inspect the accuracy of measuring instruments and to submit them to verification which shall entail their obligation to put mark on such measuring instruments". Pursuant to the Ordinance on the Responsibilities of Administrative Authorities, "any use of imprecise measuring instruments" in villages "shall be under the responsibility of their respective village headmen and tribal chiefs". The penalties for noncompliance with the ordinances were prescribed as well, and they ranged from fines to deprivation of goods, permanent or temporary bans to perform trade activities or imprisonment.

The application of the system of measurements throughout the region has been governed since the time of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, extending to the former Yugoslav Federation after the World War II, until the nowadays and contemporary Montenegro.

During the time of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, more precisely in 1919, Department for Measures and Measuring Instruments was established with its head office in Belgrade, with the aim to "enforce the Law on Measures and other relevant laws and rule books". The Department was the cornerstone of further various forms of centralized metrology institutes.

During the time of the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro, the state functions within the field of metrology was performed by the Bureau for Measures and Precious Metal, Belgrade, while there was one of the eight territorial units of the Bureau in Podgorica, i.e. the Control of Measures and Precious Metals (established in the early 60s of the 20th century). The basic assignments of the Control of Measures and Precious Metals were to inspect working measurement standards and measuring instruments; to inspect and to put marks on measuring instruments; to control the observance of the criteria for testing the measuring instruments of the verification seekers; to deliver professional assistance; to issue certificates of the accuracy/precision of measuring instruments; to examine and to put hallmarks on the precious metals articles; to identify the criteria for passing a decision on assigning trade marks to producers, as well as to conduct metrological inspection.

After proclamation of the independence of Montenegro on June 03, 2006, the Control of Measures, and Precious Metals, Podgorica, completed the required metrology activities until establishment of the Center for Metrology on July 17, 2006, which ceased to work following establishment of the Bureau of Metrology.

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