Steelyard and weight
Early Byzantine Period
5th–6th century A.D.
Length of rod: 106.7 cm (42 in.); height of weight: 21.6 cm (8 1/2 in.)
Medium or Technique
Not On View
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.
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
Museum purchase with funds donated by Cornelius and Emily Vermeule and Walter and Celia Gilbert in honor of Mary Bryce Comstock