Antiquities > Weights and Scales

Judaean or Phoenician/Mesopotamian Sheqel fractional weight, or worthless scrap?


Curtis JJ:
I apologize for "sort  of" multi-posting this. I posted twice, once a year I believe, in Numismatic ID help, which was the wrong board, since, this pre- or exo-numismatic. Also, please pardon my ignorance on this topic. I am not very experienced with antiquities (besides coins) and confess I prefer not to possess them. But, since I purchase bulk coins, I come across small metal antiquities on occasion.

I am very slightly familiar with Judaean, Egyptian, and Phonoecian "weight" standards. I looked up some old British catalogs and a bit of Meshorer's and Hendin's writing on the subject.

I am guessing what I have found here is a weight, religious in significance, circa 1000-600 BCE. The few previous I found were smooth, round-to-oblong, and seemingly led (based on specific gravity). Like this one, they weighed according to sheqel standards (Judaean or Phoenician).

What makes this one seem special are two things:

First, the remarkably careful incuse decorations on the "top." (It is a disc-shaped weight--if it is a weight.) I suppose this could also be a wealthy child's toy (like 19th-20th century marbles) or adult's game piece. It does resemble certain game pieces, though not at all like the clay or limestone dice I've seen.

Second, the weight, 3.80 grams, would make it 1/6 of a Judaean or 1/2 of a Phoenician/Mesopotamian sheqel, if I understand these standards correctly. As I said, I am not very well informed, but I haven't seen this particular "denomination" in published collections.

Perhaps it is worthless. But it was the only non-coin (besides led tessera and potin weights) in about a kg of early Holy Land coins (nearly all Phoenician, Nabataean, and Judaean). But I have tremendous respect for antiquities and I sincerely wish to know what the item could be. Perhaps there is no knowing for sure.

Below is a triptych of images that will give a sense of the object. (It is about 12mm in diameter, 5.5mm at it's thickest point.) (I have other photos.)


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