Steelyard and weight

Byzantine
Early Byzantine Period
5th–6th century A.D.


Dimensions

Length of rod: 106.7 cm (42 in.); height of weight: 21.6 cm (8 1/2 in.)

Accession Number

2001.546.1-4

Medium or Technique

Bronze

Not On View

Collections

Europe, The Ancient World

Classifications

Weights and measures

The steelyard consists of a rod in two parts of unequal length and two additional hooks suspended on chains from a torque. The longer part of the rod is of tapering lozenge section engraved on three sides, each side with different divisions and stippled Greek letters at various intervals, the terminal in the form of a feline head. The lettering was used to mark the various weights. The shorter part is of rectangular section with three hooks suspended on moveable rings, each attached to a different side of the rod, the terminal in the form of a lion’s head. The lead-filled weight is in the form of a bust of Athena supported on a rectangular flaring base decorated with stippled tendrils and bunches of grapes, the goddess wearing a chiton and a chlamys, an aegis with gorgoneion, and high-crested Corinthian helmet, shingled cuirass on the back, and a separate hook for suspending the weight on the rod.

Provenance

By the 1960s: said to be in the collection of an American museum curator in another field; by 1976: with Palladion Antike Kunst, Rennweg 51, CH 4052, Basel, Switzerland (Katalog 1976, no. 113); by June 2001, with Sotheby's, 1334 York Ave., New York, NY 10021 (auction June 12, 2001, lot 104); 2001: purchased by MFA at the Sotheby's auction; accessioned by MFA, September 26, 2001 as museum purchase with funds donated by Cornelius and Emily Vermeule and Walter and Celia Gilbert in honor of Mary Bryce Comstock

Credit Line

Museum purchase with funds donated by Cornelius and Emily Vermeule and Walter and Celia Gilbert in honor of Mary Bryce Comstock