12 December 2018

Zoomorphic weight

"Zoomorphic weights were widespread in the ancient world. Weights in the shape of frogs and toads were rare in the Near East, but they do occur in Egypt. This frog weight is dated to the second millennium B.C. on the basis of the four line Akkadian inscription under its throat: "a frog [weighing] 10 minas, a legitimate weight of the god Shamash, belonging to Iddin-Nergal, son of Arkat-ili-damqa." The mina was the Mesopotamian unit of measure, weighing about 500 grams (18 ounces)."
Carved from diorite or andesite in Mesopotamia ca 2000-1600 B.C. From the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, via Uncertain Times.


  1. For the record, these were not paper weights, but a standard weight that could be used on scales to measure the weight of metals.

    1. Any idea whether the purpose of fashioning them in zoomorphic shape(s) was to prevent merchants from shaving down a standard weight to cheat customers?

    2. Hmm, I suppose there's quite a bit of shaving you can do before it becomes noticeable.

      I say, Utnapishtim, your frogs look frightfully skinny today. - Nonsense, my dear chap, they're just healthy, is all. That'll be twelve, or rather, thirteen sheqels of silver then. My my, prices do rise, wouldn't you agree?


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