Article

Late Roman and Byzantine Weights and Weighing Equipment

Christopher Entwistle

in The Oxford Handbook of Byzantine Studies

Published in print October 2008 | ISBN: 9780199252466
Published online November 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199252466.013.0004

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Classics and Ancient History

 Late Roman and Byzantine Weights and Weighing Equipment

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Weights produced during the Byzantine Era were in gold, silver, "bronze", lead, glass, and stone. Surviving gold and silver weights are extremely rare. Bronze, an alloy of copper and tin, was also seldom employed, which clearly reflects the loss of the tin-producing provinces in the west during the course of the fourth century CE. Most "bronzes" are actually either brass (copper and zinc) or "gunmetal" (copper, tin, and zinc), both of which can often be prefixed with the term "leaded". A large majority of Byzantine metal weights are made of these two alloys. Lead and stone weights are not common, while glass from around the end of the fifth to the middle of the seventh century CE was a popular alternative to metal, especially for coinage weights. This article describes the weights and weighing equipment using during the Late Roman and Byzantine periods, focusing on metrology, administration, typology, and chronology.

Keywords: Byzantine Era; weights; weighing equipment; alloys; bronze; glass; metrology; chronology; brass; gunmetal

Article.  2830 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Middle Eastern Languages

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