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Weight in the Shape of a Byzantine Empress

Date:
5th century
Culture:
Byzantine
Medium:
Copper alloy, filled with metal
Dimensions:
5 1/2 × 2 11/16 × 1 3/4 in., 3.5 lb. (13.9 × 6.9 × 4.5 cm, 1574g)
Classification:
Metalwork-Copper alloy
Credit Line:
Bequest of Adra M. Newell, 1966
Accession Number:
67.154.1
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 301
Portraits busts of Byzantine empresses were used for weights, thereby encouraging the public's belief in the state's ability to ensure fair and prosperous trade. The women here, whose elaborate jewels represented the wealth of the state, hold a mappa, an official symbol of imperial authority, or a scroll, reflecting the state's emphasis on learning.
Adra M. Newell, New York (until 1967)
Lebel, Paul. Catalogue des collections archéologiques de Besançon. V, Les bronzes figurés. Paris: Société d'Édition Les Belles Lettres, 1959–1961. p. 55.

Elbern, Victor. "Neuerworbene Bronzebildwerke in der Frühchristlichbyzantinischen Sammlung.”." Berliner Museen 20 (H 1) (1969–1970).

Weitzmann, Kurt, ed. Age of Spirituality: Late Antique and Early Christian Art, Third to Seventh Century. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1979. no. 328, p. 345.

Franken, Norbert. "Aequipondia: Figürliche Laufgewichte römischer und frühbyzantinischer Schnellwaagen." PhD diss., Verlag und Datenbank für Geisteswissenschaften, 1994. no. CA12, p. 172, pl. 84.



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