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ARCHAEOLOGICAL DESCRIPTION OF THE WEIGHT
Authority
Mint
Seleucia Pieria
Denomination
1 Mina
Material
Copper alloy (bronze or brass)
Manufacture
Cast
Shape
Square
Length
11.20 cm
Width
11.50 cm
Height
0.80 cm
Metrology
Mass (g) Mass (grain) Date of measurement Reference fragmented cleaned reference weight
534.50 - - True and Hamma 1994 No No Yes
Iconography
Symbol Technique Direction Position Number Synecdoche
Lattice pattern Relief
Anchor Stamped / Countermarked
Elephant Relief LEFT Walking
Wear
Corrosion
Handle
No
Suspension hole
Yes
Recarved mould
No
Recarved weight
No
Intentionally destroyed
No
Archaeological description
True and Hamma 1994: Hellenistic, second part of third century B.C. Bronze; H: 11.2 cm; w: 11.5 cm; Depth: 0.8cm; Weight: 534.5 g (Mina of Seleucia Pieriae). Condition: Intact. Provenance: Found near Adana (together with cat. no. 95). The square weight has a hole, evidently for suspension, pierced in the center top. Side A is framed by a plain molding and, within this, an astragal. An Indian elephant, shown in medium-low relief and seen in profile facing the viewer’s left, stands on a plain ground line. In the field in front of his head is a small anchor. The piece is inscribed in relief letters: ΣΕΛΕΥΚΕΙΟΣ (Seleucian [meaning the city of]) above the elephant and ΜΝΑ (mina) below. The reverse has a net pattern and a raised, roughly rectangular area that is evidence of the weight of the piece being adjusted. This piece is remarkable for several reasons: (1) this type of weight is common in lead but extremely rare in bronze, (2) it is unusual to find the Seleucid anchor in the field on such a weight, (3) the elephant is unusually well designed as are the script and the carved border, and (4) the piece lacks a date. The fact that the weight is bronze combined with the missing date indicates that the weight is of early manufacture. Lead elephant weights from Antioch and Seleucia are known from the period between the beginning of the Seleucid era in 312 B.C. and the founding of Seleucia Pieriae itself in 109 B.C. E. Seyrig has stressed that the first known dated elephant weight (Louvre 3303: Michon; de Ridder) is marked 126 of the Seleucid era (= 187/186 B.C.). Our bronze weight is, thus, considerably earlier, which is also indicated by the early form of the alpha. A very similar, but less well-preserved piece, in lead with a weight of 1057 grams, in the American Numismatic Society has been attributed to Antioch (see Lang). It may, however, come from the same die as our bronze weight. Another lead double mina of Seleucia with the elephant marching to the right is of somewhat lighter weight (1035 grams) and later date (see Qedar).The inscription is an enigma. It seems inconceivable that an early official weight, not to mention a weight-standard, from the Seleucid empire would contain an error in the inscription, i.e., ΣΕΛΕΥΚΕΙΟΣ (Seleucian) instead of ΣΕΛΕΥΚΕΙΟΝ, the usual inscription, meaning ([the weight] of the inhabitants of Seleucia). M. Rostovtzeff proposes an explanation for the anomaly: “ΣΕΛΕΥΚΕΙΟΣ means ΣΕΛΕΥΚΕΙΟΣ ΧΑΡΑΚΤΗΡ” (Seleucian means Seleucian mark). The weights in this region and period vary considerably. This maybe the reason for the addition of the rectangular metal piece to our specimen. It seems, however, that a mina between 500 and 600 grams is the most frequent weight. Thus, the figure of 534.5 grams fits into this scheme.
Getty Museum: A majestic Indian elephant moves to the left across a ground line on this Seleucid bronze weight. An inverted anchor, a frequent Seleucid dynastic emblem, appears in very low relief in front of the elephant. The Greek inscriptions above and below the animal state that this object is an official weight from the Seleucid Empire or dynasty and that it weighs a mina, a standard unit of measure for the Greeks in the 200s B.C. Cities kept official weights as controls against which the thousands of weights used daily in commercial transactions could be calibrated. The careful detailed decoration, the form of the letters in the inscription, and the bronze material all date this weight to relatively early in Seleucid rule. The back of the weight is covered with a net pattern and a raised rectangular area in the center shows that the weight was adjusted. Normally, flat plaque weights, such as this one, were laid in the pan of a simple balance scale. This weight, however, has a hole pierced in the center top, evidently converting it for suspension.
Autopsy
No
INSCRIPTION
Language Technique Legend type
Greek Relief Denomination, Mint
Fac simile
Edition
Σελεύκειος | μνᾶ.
Monogram
ARCHAEOLOGICAL CONTEXT
Findspot (region)
Turkey: Adana
Findspot (site)
Adana / Antiochia ad Sarum
context
True and Hamma 1994: Found near Adana (together with cat. no. 95)
CIRCUMSTANCES OF ACQUISITION
Region
City
Date of first acquisition
Dec. 31, 1988
circumstances
Gift of Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman (New York, 1925 – New York, 1997) to the J. Paul Getty Museum in 1996. Sold to Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman in 1988, Fritz Bürki & Son (Zurich, Switzerland).
DATING OF THE WEIGHT
Curatorial Section
GREEK
Time frame
FROM -250 TO -100
Comments on Chronology
Second half of 3rd century B.C.
COLLECTION HISTORY
Collection
Name Date of acquisition Inventory number
Fleischman Collection Dec. 31, 1988 F120
Getty Museum – Getty Villa (Malibu) Dec. 31, 1996 96.AC.142
Bibliography
Reference Page/Column Reference (number) Plate / Figure Comment
True and Hamma 1994 200–201 94 fig. 94 None
Bodel and Tracy 1997 10 (non vidi)
Getty Museum 1997–98 65