Roman-Byzantine Bronze Trade Weight 3rd - 5th century CE

£165.00 $209.27 Product Code: 2023072101

Technical Description 

An archaic 1 uncia bronze weight dating to the late Roman - Byzantine period, 3rd century CE - 5th century CE. Made from a copper alloy (heavily leaded bronze). This is an early weight from the Eastern region, produced after weights with Roman numbers (I for one ounce) and before only Greek numbers/letters were used. The form is a ‘spheroidal barrel’, doubly truncated with a centring point on the top and bottom, otherwise known as type ‘Entwistle A’.

 

The top face is engraved with a comparatively uncommon combination of two denominational marks ‘ꙋA’. The first ‘ꙋ’ symbol is typically denoted as ‘OY’ (Cyrillic) or  ‘OU / ȣ’ (Greek ligature), not to be mistaken for the ‘ᛟ’ Othila rune or a Christian ‘fish’; the second symbol is Alpha. Weighs 25.7g, corresponding to 1 ounkion or 1 Roman uncia (1 ounce). Patina of grey and green hues with a light brown residue.

 

ꙋ is an abbreviation for ΟΥΝΓΓΙΑ = UNCIA or ounce. When paired with ૪, the weight denominations are:

     ꙋA = 1 ounce

     ꙋB = 2 ounces

     ꙋΓ = 3 ounces

     ꙋC = 6 ounces

Date & Origin 

Roman, Eastern Empire, 3rd century CE - Early Byzantine 5th century CE. c200 - c499.

Condition

Well-preserved, smooth surface. May have originally been inlaid although many were only engraved. Beautiful green patina.

Dimensions

Height: 1.3cm
Diameter: 1.9cm

Historical Context 

An excerpt from ‘Byzantium: Treasures Of Byzantine Art And Culture’ by David Buckton, 1994. “The limited evidence suggests that the spheroidal type, derived from first-century BC Roman stone weights, was the predominant form from the first century AD until well into the fourth. Gradually it was superseded by the square type, which was in turn replaced by the discoid weight in the latter half of the sixth century. If the stratigraphy at the site of Corinth is to be believed, discoid weights were still being produced as late as the twelfth century.”

Documented Examples

British Museum (1 ounce): https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/H_1982-0506-39
British Museum (2 ounces): https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/H_1980-0601-92
British Museum (3 ounces): https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/H_1980-0601-60
British Museum (6 ounces): https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/H_1980-0601-29

Entwistle A’ type weights: https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/term/x296786

Other types categorised by Christopher Entwistle can be found here using the ‘narrower terms’ links and then the ‘related objects’ tab: https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/term/x296252

 

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