Ancient Scale Weight – Roman, Byzantine, or Islamic

Date: c. 200 - 1000 CE
Ancient Middle East

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Item Description:

Note: Some of these weights contain lead, which was a common additive during ancient and medieval times.

These copper, brass, and leaded-copper scale weights date back to the 3rd to 10th century, and originate from the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East.

Weights like these played a crucial role in ancient commerce, allowing people to measure out precise quantities of goods. They also played an administrative role in tax collection and the creation of currency, as coins needed to be struck with a consistent weight. Scale weights were sometimes decorated with lettering, geometric patterns, and religious imagery, though only faint etchings remain on the weights in this group.

The modern day pound in the Imperial system actually descends from the Roman pound (or litra), though the vast size of the empire meant that the measurement system of the Romans was not quite as precise as modern day systems. A Roman pound was split into twelve ounces or 72 solidi, the standard weight of a gold coin. The later Byzantine Empire would continue the use of this system into medieval times.

As this collection was likely amassed from multiple sources and dates back to a wide time span, the cultural origin of these weights may be Roman, Byzantine, or early Islamic. The group originates from the collection of Joel Malter (1931-2006), a prominent numismatist and dealer of antiquities. It was then acquired by a private collector in Charlottesville, North Carolina around 2004, and later purchased by History Hoard at auction.

All purchases include a Certificate of Authenticity. You will receive the exact item in this photo, along with a glass top leatherette display box.

A Roman scale dating from the mid-1st century CE, as displayed in the Musei Capitolini (Rome, Italy)

A Roman scale dating from the mid-1st century CE, as displayed in the Musei Capitolini (Rome, Italy)


Your order will include:

  • The historical item(s) shown above
  • Glass top leatherette display box
  • Information card and Certificate of Authenticity

Our original glass and leatherette display boxes showcase your relic above a custom information card, with a design unique to History Hoard.

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