Complete bronze steelyard balance (Statera)

Roman period, 2nd century A.D.

Art market, London, 1985
Private collection, Switzerland, acquired from the above

F. B. Tarbell
Catalogue of bronzes, etc., in Field Museum of natural history. Reproduced from Originals in the Mational Museum of Naples, in: Anthopological series vol. VII, no. 3, pls. 108-109

With quadrangular bar with graduated scale and spherical lead weight, three suspension hooks, the vessel hung by three bronze chains, one finial in the form of a lion's protome

Steelyards were popular devices for weighing all kinds of commodities. They were used from the Roman and early Byzantine periods. Thought to have been invented by the Romans, the steelyard was an unequal arm balance with a changeable fulcrum and movable counterweight. The collar with the hooks on long chains was fitted over the shorter end with the various suspension hooks, while the sliding counterweight moved along the other end of the long calibrated rod. Cf. Vitruvius' description in his "De Architectura," Book X, 3-4.

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