Length: 28.570 cm
Weight: 14933.700 g
Excavated by A.H. Layard
Bronze weight in the form of a lion
Neo-Assyrian, 9th-8th century BC
From Nimrud (ancient Kalhu), northern Iraq
Found buried beneath a giant stone bull
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 .
J.E. Curtis and J.E. Reade (eds), Art and empire: treasures from (London, The British Museum Press, 1995)
A.H. Layard, Nineveh and its remains, 2 volumes (London, J. Murray, 1849)
M. Roaf, Cultural atlas of Mesopotamia (New York, 1990)
A.H. Layard, Discoveries in the ruins of Ni (London, J. Murray, 1853)