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Ancient Weights and Scales

Ancient and Medieval Weights and Scales for sale at Forum Ancient Coins

Ancient Scales and Weights on the Classical Numismatics Discussion

Weights are among the more common objects of pre-modern societies. Weights and a balance were essential for measuring quantities of many commodities and for evaluating coins. In the Islamic world, balance weights were made of metal, 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.

Probably the most common class of weights are those for evaluating coins. The weights of pre-industrial handmade coins were often regulated loosely or not at all. Nearly every monetary transaction, therefore, required the use of a balance with weights, to ensure that the coins being transferred were of full weight or to measure their value as a direct function of their total mass. Every merchant, money changer, and fiscal official had a balance and a set of weights for the coins he used. Bakers in eleventh-century Cairo, for example, had weights for the bread they sold and for the coins they received (al-Musabbi hi, 63; Bates, "Function," 71). -- Michael Bates in Bates Weights.

References

Balog, P. "Fatimid Glass Jetons: Token Currency or Coin-Weights?" in JESHO 24 (1981), pp. 93-109.
Balog, P. "Islamic Bronze Weights from Egypt" in JESHO 13 (1970), pp. 235 - 255. Online.
Balog, P. "Pesi di bronzo islamici del XIII secolo" in Quaderni ticinesi di numismatica e antichità classiche 1973, pp. 179-93.
Balog, P. "Poids forts fatimites en plomb," Revue Belge de Numismatique 105 (1959), pp. 171-88. PDF Online.
Balog, P. "The Fatimid Glass Jeton" in Annali dell'Istituto Italiano di Numismatica 18-19 (1971-72), pp. 175-264; and 20 (1973), pp. 121-212.
Bates, M.L. "How Egyptian Glass Coin Weights Were Used" in Rivista Italiana di Numismatica e Scienze Affini 95 (1993), pp. 539-545.
Bates, M.L. "The Function of Fatimid and Ayyubid Glass Weights" in JESHO 24 (1981), pp. 63-92.
Bates, M.L. "Weights" for Encyclopedia of Islamic Archaeology (unpublished). PDF Online.
Bernard, S. "Notice sur les poids arabes anciens et modernes" in Description de l'egypte...l'expedition de l'armee francaise, XVI. (Paris, 1825), pp. 73-106.
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).
Curiel, R. & P. Gignoux. "Un poids arabo-sasanide" in Studia Iranica 5 (1976), pp. 165-69.
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). PDF Online.
Houben, G.M.M. The Weighing of Money. (Zwolle, Netherlands, 1982).
Ibrahim, T. "Ponderales andaluses" in Numisma 233 (July-December 1993), pp. 39-68.
Jovanovic, J. “Late Antique and early Byzantine spherical bronze commercial weights housed in the Archaeological Museum in Split. Jovanović, Jelena Vjesnik za Arheologiju i Povijest Dalmatinsku; 2012, Vol. 105, pp. 179 -200.         
Krapivina, V.V. "Bronze Weights from Olbia" in Black Sea Studies 1 (Aarhus University Press, 2003), pp. 117 - 130. PDF Online.
Manns, F. Some Weights of the Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine periods: English translation by Godfrey Kloetzli. Studium Biblicum Franciscanum Museum 7. (Jerusalem, 1984).
Morton, A.H. A Catalogue of Early Islamic Glass Stamps in the British Museum. (London, 1985).
Mutz, A. Romische Waagen und Gewichte aus Augst und Kaisaraugst. Augster Museumshefte 6. (Augst, Switzerland, 1983).  
Pilcher, E.J. “Weights of Ancient Palestine” in Palestine Exploration Quarterly. (Oct 1912). pp. 178-199.
Ronen, Y. "Coins as scale weights" in INR 5, 2010.
Tekin, O. “ A catalogue of weights in the museums of Bodrum and Milas (including some non weight objects) in Stratonikeia to Lagina. Festschrift in Honour of Ahmet Adil Tırpan (Ed. B. Söğüt). (Ege Yayınları, İstanbul, 2013). pp. 613 - 622.
Tye, R. Early World Coins and Early Weight Standards. (York, 2009).
Weber, K. Byzantinische Münzgewichte: Materialkorpus Für 1-Nomisma-Gewichte: Studien Zur Vielfalt Der Ausführungsform, Metrologie Und Herstellung. (Solingen, 2009). Purchase online.
Weber, K. Late Antiquity Weights. Supplement 16. (Solingen, 2013).
Whitehouse, D. Roman Glass in the Corning Museum of Glass, Volume Three. (Rochester, 1997).