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HOME : Near Eastern Art : Babylonian Duck Weights : Set of Three Babylonian Stone Duck Weights
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Set of Three Babylonian Stone Duck Weights - FJ.2751
Origin: Mesopotamia
Circa: 2000 BC to 1000 BC

Collection: Near Eastern Art
Medium: Stone

Additional Information: SOLD
Location: United States
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These attractive stone pieces are a set of weights from ancient Babylon, and are amongst the first standardized weights and measures the world had seen. Weights in this form were used throughout the Levantine area, and were officially moderated to ensure fair play among tradesmen and their customers. Each is formed in the manner of a suck with its head resting on its back. The largest and middle-sized example are well-preserved, whereas the smallest had been rubbed and worn considerably more.

Determining the exact weight of these pieces has been a long-running debate among academics. The Babylonian system was based upon shekels, minas and talents. Sixty shekels made up a mina (= one pound), and sixty minas equalled a talent. Weights were notched to indicate their weight, as can be seen here, although the markings are so complex that they might have been used (or reused) as seals. They were often marked with the date and the name of the owner, or the presiding monarch (such as the King Nebuchadrezzar II duck weight in the British Museum). The significance of the weights has questioned. The technical weight of a mina is 7550 grains (a double mina being 15100 grains), and slightly less under the ancient Sumerian system. This and the weights of the other measures has been related directly to volumetric formulae used in ancient construction of such notable monuments as the pyramids of Giza, as well as lunisolar calendrical measurements.

These are important and attractive pieces of ancient art which have a great deal to offer to the epigrapher or collector.

- (FJ.2751)


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