Bronze weight in the form of a lion


British Museum

British Museum

This bronze lion was discovered by the excavator Henry Layard in the nineteenth century at the Assyrian city of Kalhu (modern Nimrud). He found a pair of stone guardian bull figures at a gateway (similar to a winged bull now in the British Museum). One of them had fallen against the other and had broken into several pieces. After lifting the body with some difficulty, Layard discovered under it sixteen lion weights. They formed a regular series diminishing in size from 30 cm to 2 cm in length. The larger weights have handles cast on to the bodies, and the smaller have rings attached to them. This example has an Aramaic inscription which reads '15 royal minas'. It possibly dates to the time of Shalmaneser V (reigned 727-722 BC). The mina, corresponding to about 500 grams, was subdivided into 60 shekels. Alongside this system was another which used a 'heavy' mina, corresponding to about 1 kilogram. This lion belongs to the second system, which seems to have been commonly used in Assyria, probably for weighing metals. It continued to be used into the Persian period.

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  • Title: Bronze weight in the form of a lion
  • Date Created: -899/-600
  • Physical Dimensions: Length: 28.57cm; Weight: 14933.70g
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Subject: mammal
  • Registration number: 1848,1104.66
  • Place: Excavated/Findspot North West Palace
  • Period/culture: Neo-Assyrian
  • Material: copper alloy
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Authority: Ruler Shalmaneser III. Ruler Shalmaneser V. Ruler Tiglath-pileser III. Ruler Sargon II. Ruler Sennacherib
  • Acquisition: From Layard, Austen Henry