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Late Roman and Byzantine Weights in the Collection of the Istanbul Archaeology Museum

Oğuz Tekin, Istanbul University, Summer Fellow 2010

Byzantine One Uncia One uncia; Bronze, D. 26 mm, W. 27.00 gr.; Byzantine, AD 6th–7th centuries; Inv. no. İstanbul Archaeology Museums 71.84.

My project was to study and catalogue the nearly five hundred late Roman and Byzantine weights in the collection of the Istanbul Archaeology Museum. There are mainly two groups of weights: commercial weights and coin weights. Since the photographs and the technical measurements of the weights were taken previously in the museum, I classified them according to their forms and units, and was thus able to make a tentative catalogue of them during my two-month residence. The chronological span for the weights ranges from the fourth century through the thirteenth century AD. The weights were classified in eight main types: (1) spherical commercial weights, (2) circular commercial weights, (3) square commercial weights, (4) octagonal commercial weights, (5) circular coin weights, (6) square coin weights, (7) octagonal coin weights, and (8) bowl-shaped weights. Types 2, 3, 5, and 6 form the majority in number. While type 1 consists of Late Roman weights, the other types are Byzantine weights. All the weights (except for the bowl-shaped ones) are engraved or punched on the top with the denominational mark, mainly inlaid with silver. The largest unit is a 3 libra weight weighing 975 grams; it is among the circular commercial weights (type 2). Nearly all of the weights were classified and catalogued by their forms, units, and chronology.

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