Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Weight in the Shape of a Byzantine Empress

5th century
Copper alloy
7 5/16 × 4 × 2 5/16 in., 2.7 lb. (18.5 × 10.2 × 5.9 cm, 1206g)
Metalwork-Copper alloy
Credit Line:
Gift of Mrs. W. Murray Crane, 1969
Accession Number:
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.
Mrs. W. Murray Crane, Dalton, Massachusetts (until 1969)
von Bothmer, Dietrich. Ancient Art from New York Private Collections: Catalogue of An Exhibition Held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, December 17, 1959-February 28, 1960.. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1961. no. 315, pl. 104.

Franken, Norbert. "Aequipondia: Figürliche Laufgewichte römischer und frühbyzantinischer Schnellwaagen." PhD diss., Verlag und Datenbank für Geisteswissenschaften, 1994. no. CA61, pp. 179-80, pl. 99.

Durand, Jannic, and Dorota Giovannoni, ed. Chypre: entre Byzance et l'Occident, IVe–XVIe siècle. Paris: Musée du Louvre Éditions, 2012. no. 16, p. 57.

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