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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ |Antiquities| ▸ |Antiquities by Type| ▸ |Weights & Scales||View 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.

Phoenician, Bronze Trapezoid Cube Weight (Ayin - 21.595g), c. 7th - 4th Century B.C.

|Weights| |&| |Scales|, |Phoenician,| |Bronze| |Trapezoid| |Cube| |Weight| |(Ayin| |-| |21.595g),| |c.| |7th| |-| |4th| |Century| |B.C.|
This weight is the usual shape for the type, an inverted truncated pyramid - a cube with the bottom slightly smaller than the top. The type dates from perhaps as early as the the 9th century B.C. to the end of the Persian period. They were undoubtedly used to weigh silver bullion for transactions. Kletter lists nine weights with circle marks, ranging from 2.55g to 80.67g. Some, like ours, were incised with straight lines or punches. Most were found at Akko.
AS111486. Phoenician, bronze trapezoid cube weight; cf. Hendin Weights 245 (21.63), Kletter 2000 25 (21.17g), Hecht A 47 (20.03g), Choice, 21.595g (3 shekels?), 14.3x16.6x12.9mm, c. 7th - 4th Century B.C.; inverted truncated pyramid (a cube with the bottom slightly smaller than the top), incised circle (Phoenician ayin) on top created with a 8 short straight line cuts, ex Shick Coins (Max Shick, Israel, 2012); $720.00 SALE PRICE $648.00


Persian Empire, Samaria, Bronze 1 Shekel Weight, c. 375 - 332 B.C.

|Weights| |&| |Scales|, |Persian| |Empire,| |Samaria,| |Bronze| |1| |Shekel| |Weight,| |c.| |375| |-| |332| |B.C.|
According to David Hendin's, Guide to Biblical Coins, weight standard and silver content differences in the Persian Period existed as follows:
Type                      Weight    AR %    AR g
Edomite Sheqel    15.96g   96.4%  15.38g
Judaean Sheqel    11.33g   97.0%  10.99g
Samarian Sheqel  14.52g  91.8%  13.32g
Philistian Sheqel  14.32g  94.3%  13.50g
AS111501. Judah, bronze 1 shekel sphere weight, Hendin Weights -; Tushingham -; Kletter 1998; sphere with two flat surfaces, Choice, 14.427g, 15.7mm diameter, c. 375 - 332 B.C.; ex Archaeological Center (Robert Deutsch, Tel Aviv, Israel, 2012); rare; $720.00 SALE PRICE $648.00


Western Asiatic, Black Stone Duck Weight (7.736g), Bead, or Amulet, c. Early 1st Millennium B.C.

|Weights| |&| |Scales|, |Western| |Asiatic,| |Black| |Stone| |Duck| |Weight| |(7.736g),| |Bead,| |or| |Amulet,| |c.| |Early| |1st| |Millennium| |B.C.|
Carved hematite weights were made in Mesopotamia in from the Old Babylonian period until Neo Babylonian times, c. 1900 - 1600 B.C. Hematite is widely found in Syria and Turkey, but was imported into Mesopotamia because it was not found locally. After about 1600 B.C., weights made in Mesopotamia were carved from a black stone that looks similar but which is not hematite. Similar ducks were also carved in lapis lazuli, agate, carnelian and other stones. Pierced ducks may have been used as beads or amulets.
AS111496. cf. Hendin Weights p. 147, 64 (similar, but hematite, 10.29g, 30 giru) and 67 (8.06g, shekel, but hematite and unpierced), Choice, surface chips, 7.736g, 12.6x22.7x14.1mm, c. early 1st Millennium B.C.; reverse carved black stone (not hematite), the form of stylized duck, its head and neck turned back, hugging the body with the head resting flat on the center of the back, pierced crosswise below the neck and head, flat base; ex Collector Antiquities (Dr. Bron Lipkin, London, UK, 2012); $450.00 SALE PRICE $405.00


Judah, Limestone Dome Weight, 4 Shekels (39.751g), c. 800 - 586 B.C.

|Weights| |&| |Scales|, |Judah,| |Limestone| |Dome| |Weight,| |4| |Shekels| |(39.751g),| |c.| |800| |-| |586| |B.C.|
This is a pre-exile limestone weight from Judah. Lead weights apparently were not used in Jerusalem. Ronny Reich in "Stone Scale Weights of the Late Second Temple Period from the Jewish Quarter," concludes that the Jerusalemites used limestone weights instead of lead for reasons of purity, since in Judaism, according to later rabbinical sources, stone does not acquire impurity.
AS111509. Judah, limestone dome weight; cf. Tushingham fig. 78, 27 (42.22g, pink and gray limestone); Hendin Weights 198 (43.82g, grey limestone), Choice, 39.751g, 27.3mm diameter, underweight, pre-exile, 800 - 586 B.C.; carved creamy white limestone, high dome, flat bottom, unmarked; $450.00 SALE PRICE $405.00


Phoenician, Bronze Trapezoid Cube Weight (Het - 8.959g), c. 7th - 4th Century B.C.

|Weights| |&| |Scales|, |Phoenician,| |Bronze| |Trapezoid| |Cube| |Weight| |(Het| |-| |8.959g),| |c.| |7th| |-| |4th| |Century| |B.C.|
If the markings on these weights indicate a value, we don't understand. Based on the weight of 8.959g, one might assume this is one shekel weight. Hendin lists four weights with the Phoenician het and all are about twice this weight and all are identified as 2 shekels weights. Kletter lists weights marked with the Phoenician het ranging from 0.95g to 16g.
AS111485. Phoenician, bronze trapezoid cube weight; Kletter 2000 16 (8.86g), Hendin Weights 248 - 251 (16.81 - 17.77g), Hecht A 53 (3.50g), Choice, earthen encrustations, 8.959g, 11.9x12.6x9.2mm, c. 7th - 4th Century B.C.; inverted truncated pyramid, incised (Phoenician het) on top, ex Shick Coins (Max Shick, Israel, 2012); $360.00 SALE PRICE $324.00


Mediterranean Region, Lead Shell Weight, 1/8 Libra (47.803g), c. 4th Century B.C. - 2nd Century A.D.

|Weights| |&| |Scales|, |Mediterranean| |Region,| |Lead| |Shell| |Weight,| |1/8| |Libra| |(47.803g),| |c.| |4th| |Century| |B.C.| |-| |2nd| |Century| |A.D.||weight|
Hendin lists several such shell-shaped weights. They are found throughout the Mediterranean Region.
AS99980. Lead weight, Hendin Weights 276, Manns-Kloetzli p. 22, 37; Alvarez-Burgos P29; 1/8 Libra lead weight molded from bipod shell, weight 47.803 g, maximum diameter 31.2 mm, 4th century B.C. - 2nd century A.D.; $225.00 SALE PRICE $203.00


Mediterranean Region, Lead Shell Weight, 1/5 Libra (66.2g), c. 4th Century B.C. - 2nd Century A.D.

|Weights| |&| |Scales|, |Mediterranean| |Region,| |Lead| |Shell| |Weight,| |1/5| |Libra| |(66.2g),| |c.| |4th| |Century| |B.C.| |-| |2nd| |Century| |A.D.||weight|
Hendin lists several such shell-shaped weights. They are found throughout the Mediterranean Region.
AS112250. Lead weight, Hendin Weights 276, Manns-Kloetzli p. 22, 37; Alvarez-Burgos P29; 1/8 Libra lead weight molded from bipod shell, aVF, bumps, cuts, weight 66.206 g, maximum diameter 34.1 mm, 4th century B.C. - 2nd century A.D.; $160.00 SALE PRICE $144.00


Late Roman - Byzantine, Square Bronze Coin Weight, 3 Uncia (80.431g), c. 330 - 800 A.D.

|Weights| |&| |Scales|, |Late| |Roman| |-| |Byzantine,| |Square| |Bronze| |Coin| |Weight,| |3| |Uncia| |(80.431g),| |c.| |330| |-| |800| |A.D.|
A larger unmarked coin weight with a nice green patina.
AS111481. Square bronze 3 uncia coin weight; Hendin Weights 375 (80g, marked with cross over Γ Γ), Choice, nice green patina, 80.431g, 33.9mm x 34.8mm x 9.2mm; edges beveled on both sides, ex Ancient Treasures (Plamen Arsoff, Granada Hills, CA, 2011); $150.00 SALE PRICE $135.00


Roman, Britannia, Bronze Steelyard Balance Scale, c. 43 - 410 A.D.

|Weights| |&| |Scales|, |Roman,| |Britannia,| |Bronze| |Steelyard| |Balance| |Scale,| |c.| |43| |-| |410| |A.D.|
Click on the following linked identification number to see the four somewhat similar Roman steelyard balance scales in the Portable Antiquities Scheme Website Database: PUBLIC-A8AD88, BERK-8EEB1F, WMID-184456, WMID-0497776
AS78112. Roman bronze steelyard balance scale; cf. Petrie Weights p. 29, pl. XVI, Collectible, green and reddish brown patina, incomplete; 12.2 cm (4 3/4") long hanging as shown in the photo, c. 43 - 410 A.D.; ex The Time Machine (Mark E. Reid, 25 Feb 2019), found in Lindum Colonia (Lincoln, UK); $150.00 SALE PRICE $135.00


Byzantine, 2 Bronze Square Coin Weights, c. 300 - 900 A.D.

|Weights| |&| |Scales|, |Byzantine,| |2| |Bronze| |Square| |Coin| |Weights,| |c.| |300| |-| |900| |A.D.|
Based on weight, c. 1 gram each, these are 1 scripula weights. Both are labeled with N, believed to indicate Numisma. The expected weight for a numisma is, however, c. 4 grams. Weights like these are exceedingly common with great variation in their actual weight, but we remain perplexed by the conflict between the very low weight of these specimens and their markings.
AS43875. 2 Bronze Square Coin Weights, cf. Bendall 103 & 104, Collectible, green patina, each c. 1g, ex Ancient Treasures (Plamen Arsoff, Granada Hills, CA, 2011); $110.00 SALE PRICE $99.00




  



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REFERENCES

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