Steelyard weight in the form of a bust of an empress

Early Byzantine Period
5th century A.D.

Catalogue Raisonné

Greek, Etruscan, & Roman Bronzes (MFA), no. 644; Sculpture in Stone and Bronze (MFA), p. 127 (additional published references).


Height: 17.8 (7 in.); width x depth at base: 8.4 x 6.4 cm (3 5/16 x 2 1/2 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique


Not On View


Europe, The Ancient World


Weights and measures

Bust of an empress wearing a cloak held in front by the right hand and a tunic beneath. The hair is in an elaborate, high coiffure with a diadem of large stones; she wears large earrings and a heavy necklace. The bottom is weighted with lead, and a ring for suspension is cast on top of the head. Her himation is incised with small circles to represent a pattern in fine linen or silk, and her left hand holds a scroll or rotulus against the robe. The lead filling projects below the molded base, and the hairnet on top forms a logical transition to the loop for suspension. Green and dark brown to black patina.


By date unknown: with Hesperia Art, 2219 St. James Place, Philadelphia 3, Pa. (said to have been acquired in Istanbul); purchased by MFA from Hesperia Art, December 10, 1959, for $ 1,200.00

Credit Line

William E. Nickerson Fund, No. 2