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The term alqueire is documented in Portugal since the 12th century. It derives from the Arabic al kayl, which designated originally the satchels or baskets carried by pack animals for the transport of goods. The capacity of those satchels, more or less standardized by the ability of the pack animals, was taken as a measure of dry goods, especially grain. In Portugal, it was used as a measure of capacity and, eventually, it was used also as a measure of area of productive land. The spread of Portuguese culture took both meanings of the word to different parts of the world.