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Lead weights with Greek Letters (and Syrian Tetradrachm)

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Hi, here is an interesting set of lead weights from Caesarea Maritima.  All of them are missing small parts of the hanging loops so they have lost some mass, but they match fairly closely in scale.  Dating is uncertain, since these were surface finds from the beach.  Also, Greek language was in use throughout the Roman and Early Byzantine periods at Caesarea.  Any ideas regarding the date and weight system in use would be welcome.  Thanks, V-drome.

BCC LW2, 3, 4, 5, and 6
5 Lead Weights
Late Roman - Early Byzantine?
LW2: 18 x 19mm. 3.28gm.  A
LW3: 18 X 19mm.  5.36gm.  B
LW4: 21 x 16mm.   5.88gm.  B
LW5:  29 x 27.5mm.  13.24gm.   :Greek_Delta:
LW6:  45 x 43mm.  25.91gm.   H
Greek numerals A=1, B=2, Δ=4, H=8

Ih ave been told that weights with a Greek letter/numeral in a square like this are Byzantine in date but I have not seen that in any source.

Interesting set.  Lead weights in this form would seem to be so liable to damage and perhaps intentional abuse that I would not expect them to be used to weigh anything very valuable.

The units look interesting though.

The A gives 3.28 g.
The two Bs give 2.68 and 2.94 g per unit.
The  :Greek_Delta: gives 3.31 g per unit.
The H gives 3.24 g per unit.

So while the Bs are quite low - to the point that one wonders if they are damaged or are not the same units - the rest are pretty close (3.24 - 3.31 g).  Interestingly 3.37-3.38 is 1/96 of a Libra.


I thank you, Shawn.  Here is one more delta weight that appears to be completely intact.  The weight is 13.78 which gives a unit of 3.445grams.  I also just realized that my tetradrachm of Caracalla from Laodicea ad Mare - Syria weighs exactly the same.  I found a chart of the Drachma system in Wikipedia under "Apothecaries' system" in the section on Roman Weights about half way down.  They list the Drachma of the Roman period at 3.41gm, with 8 to a ounce of 27.3gm.  So these could be close.  The protrusions at the corners may have been used to adjust the weight after casting.  Some of them have holes in the hang tab and some do not, so perhaps this was part of the finishing process.  I have one more Beta weight but it is also damaged and quite light, in the 5.8gm. range.  If I come across others I will try to post.  Best regards, Jimi'_system#Roman_weight_system

32 x 28mm.  weight:13.78 grams

Here is the Syrian Caracalla Tet.  The weight is 13.78 grams.  I do not know much at all about this coin type.  I understand that some were minted at Caesarea, or at Rome, for Caesarea, but they are so different from the regular colonial types (Greek instead of Latin) and to my knowledge are not so commonly found there.  I am supposing that they were minted expressly for the local or mercenary troops who wanted familiar coinage.  Any other ideas would be appreciated.  Thanks, J

BCC rgp28
Roman Provincial AR Tetradrachm
Laodicea ad Mare - Syria
Caracalla 198-217 CE
AVG Laureate head of Caracalla right
Eagle standing, facing, head and tail to left, wreath in beak.
Star between legs.
AR 15.5mm. 13.78gm. Axis:0
possible reference: Prieur 1179; Bellinger 72

Hi All,

     Some remarkably similar weights are illustrated in
Petrie, W.M.F. Ancient Weights and Measures, British School or Archaeology in Egypt. London, 1927 (re-printed with Glass Stamps and Weights by Aris & Phillips/Malter, Warminster, Encino, 1974), Page 24, Plate XIII.
     The text, on page 24 reads: "62. SELA (Phoenician), xlvi. The most distinct series of this unit is that of the thin weights of cast lead, with a raised border and a letter-numeral, belonging to Berytus and Marathus, type 612. The similarity of the eight listed here (xiii, 5205-508, 5228, 5237, 5273, 5275) is the ground for placing so low a unit as 197 grains (no. 5205) to this system. There is however as low a variant in a series of disc weights from Carthage (197 to 234 grains) which must belong to this standard..."
     No. 5228, is very similar to yours but instead of having an H centered, it has an I.
     Just an additional note. Petrie describes the "Sela Standard" on pages 19 to 21. but this standard seems to be much earlier.
     If posting a portion of Plate XIII is illegal, feel free to delete it.
     I hope this helps.


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