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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Antiquities ▸ Antiquities by Type ▸ Weights and ScalesView Options:  |  |  | 

Weights and Scales

Weights are among the more common objects of the ancient and medieval world. Weights and a balance were essential for measuring quantities of many commodities and for evaluating coins. Probably the most common class of weights are those for evaluating coins. Balance weights were made of metal (most often bronze or lead), glass, or stone. If the mass of any small solid object conforms to an appropriate weight unit, it is likely to be a balance weight. Many excavated weights have been wrongly identified as game pieces or tokens.


Ptolemaic Egypt, Lead Weight of 8 Ptolemaic Silver Drachms, 162 - 30 B.C.

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This weight shares the same value side die with a 35.71 g weight from Kunker auction 182, lot 403. The Kunker example has a Ptolemy VI, Kiton mint, year 20 (162/1 B.C.), tetradrachm reverse type instead of the Athens tetradrachm obverse type on our example. Click to see the Kunker coin. The shared die suggest that the two weight types were manufactured in pairs and, despite the difference in weight, were used to weigh an equal value of silver. Our weight with Athena's head would have been used to weigh eight pre-170 B.C. drachms with a higher silver standard (the greater purity symbolized by the Athens tetradrachm). The Kunker weight would have been used to weigh ten post-170 B.C. debased Ptolemaic silver drachms, which had a value equal to eight of the older purer drachms.
AS84035. Lead weight, VF, pierced horizontally on the edge for stringing and suspension, weight 28.599 g, maximum diameter 27.4 mm, die axis 270o, Ptolemaic mint, 162 - 30 B.C.; obverse head of Athena right, wearing a crested helmet ornamented with a floral scroll and olive leaves (imitative of Athens "old style" tetradrachms); reverse monogram, over H (8) AΣ (abbreviating AΣ[ημι]=silver(?), Σ reversed), over P; ex Roma e-sale 21, lot 1134; SOLD


Roman, Limestone Amphora-Shaped Statera (Steelyard) Scale Weight, 2nd - 3rd Century A.D.

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From the collection of Alex G. Malloy, former dealer in antiquities for 40 years.

The statera is a type of Roman scale, often called a Roman steelyard. The steelyard comprises a balance beam which is suspended from a pivot (or fulcrum) which is very close to one end of the beam. The two parts of the beam which flank the pivot are the arms. The arm from which the object to be weighed is hung is short and is located close to the pivot point. The other arm is longer, is graduated and incorporates a counterweight which can be moved along the arm until the two arms are balanced about the pivot, at which time the weight of the load is indicated by the position of the counterweight.
AI36107. Statera weight; 4 inches high; carved amphora-shaped weight with two side lug handles; long narrow ridges to pointed bottom, Choice, most unusual; SOLD


Greek Lead Weight, c. 350 - 40 B.C., Battle Scene with Soldiers and Horse

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The weight is the gold equivalent of one mina of silver. This would be true when the ratio of gold to silver was 10 to 1: from the time of Philip II of Macedon to the time of Julius Caesar. Unusual, and worthy of further study.
AS83618. Lead weight, VF, old reverse scrapes, dent at corner; length 42.986g, weight 42.3mm, c. 350 - 40 B.C.; obverse M-NA, armed warrior and small horse advancing right toward female statue, fallen warrior below; reverse blank; SOLD







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REFERENCES

Balog, P. "Islamic Bronze Weights from Egypt" in JESHO 13 (1970), pp. 235 - 255.
Balog, P. "Poids forts fatimites en plomb" in Revue Belge de Numismatique 105 (1959), pp. 171-88.
Bates, M.L. "Weights" for Encyclopedia of Islamic Archeology (unpublished).
Bendall, S. Byzantine Weights, An Introduction. (London, 1996).
Campagnolo, M. & K. Weber. Poids Romano-Byzantins et Byzantins en Alliage Cuivreux Collections du Museée d'Art et d'Histoire - Genéve. (2015).
de Rochesnard, J. Album des poids antiques. (Colombes, no date).
Dieudonné, A. Manuel des poids monétaires. (Paris, 1925).
Dürr, N. Catalogue des poids byzantins. Muséed'Art et d?Histoire de Genève. (Geneva, 1964).
Hendin, D. Ancient Scale Weights and Pre-Coinage Currency of the Near East. (New York, 2007).
Holland, L. "Islamic Bronze Weights from Caesarea Maritima" in ANSMN 31 (1986).
Krapivina, V. "Bronze Weights from Olbia" in Black Sea Studies 1 (Aarhus University Press, 2003), pp. 117 - 130.
Manns, F. Some Weights of the Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine periods: English translation by Godfrey Kloetzli. (Jerusalem, 1984).
Mutz, A. Romische Waagen und Gewichte aus Augst und Kaisaraugst. Augster Museumshefte 6. (Augst, Switzerland, 1983).
Tekin, O. "Ancient and Ottoman Weights in the Collection of Bursa Museum" in Tarhan Armagani. (Istanbul, 2013). pp. 329 - 338.
Tekin, O. Balance weights in the Aegean world, Classical and Hellenistic periods. (Istanbul, 2016).
Weber, K. Byzantinische Münzgewichte: Materialkorpus Für 1-Nomisma-Gewichte: Studien Zur Vielfalt Der Ausführungsform, Metrologie Und Herstellung. (Solingen, 2009).
Weber, K. Late Antiquity Weights. Supplement 16. (Solingen, 2013).
Whitehouse, D. Roman Glass in the Corning Museum of Glass, Volume Three. (Rochester, 1997).

Catalog current as of Friday, September 21, 2018.
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Weights & Scales