Weight - ROM2014_14146_1



Medium:Basalt, carved and smoothed
Geography: Possibly excavated at Naukratis, Egypt
Date: c. 1400-1200 BC
Period: Late 18th to early 19th Dynasty, New Kingdom
9.5 × 16.5 cm, 4890 g
Object number: 909.80.375
On view
Gallery Location:CIBC Discovery Gallery

Currency in the form of coins was introduced into Egypt during the Late Period, but for most of Ancient Egyptian history a barter-exchange system based on the value of various weights of silver or copper was used.  Goods were valued in terms of how much copper or silver would be required to buy them, and then exchanged for other goods with the same value in metal.  For example, an Ostracon from Deir el Medina, #73, verso, described by Jac Jansen in Commodity Prices from the Ramesside Period (Leiden, 1975) gives an example of a coffin worth 25.5 deben of copper, which was purchased for two goats, one pig, two sycamore logs, and 13.5 deben of actual copper. There are many such exchanges recorded from Ancient Egypt.  Units of grain and oils were also used in exchange-barter.  As in modern economies, rates of exchange varied with supply. The weight, in grams, of a deben changed from the Old and New Kingdoms to the Late Period, but a qedet, (also known as a kite) was always valued at one tenth of a deben. Stone and bronze weights equivalent to specific amounts of copper were used in everyday market transactions, and could be checked against more official weights kept in temples

In addition to the native system of deben and qedet the Ancient Egyptians also used Mesopotamian, Syrian and Greek systems. This very heavy carved basalt weight has not yet been identified with any of the common systems. The city of Naukratis, in the Delta, where a great many weights have been found, had a mixed population of soldiers and traders from the Aegean and Mesopotamia as well as native Egyptians.  This particular weight carved of may have been an idiosyncratic weight used by a particular trader.


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