Roman female head reused later as weight

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ITEMFemale head reused later as weight with ΛΕ (=35) incised on the forehead and iron hook
PERIOD1st Century B.C – 1st Century A.D
DIMENSIONS215 mm x 175 mm x 205 mm (without stand)
CONDITIONGood condition. Nose and mouth restored. Includes stand
PROVENANCEEx German private collection, R.L., Niedersachsen, acquired 2002 – 2009

The numerals ΛΕ were carved on the forehead, which can be interpreted as ‘35’. The weight corresponds to approx. 35 libra of 326g from the Byzantine period.

Roman heads were often repurposed for various needs after the decline of the Roman Empire. One notable practice was their use as weights, particularly in the Mediterranean region. These marble heads, originally crafted as symbols of power, authority, and artistic excellence, found new life as practical objects in the bustling markets and trading hubs of the post-Roman world.

Their reuse as weights speaks to the ingenuity and resourcefulness of ancient societies, repurposing existing materials rather than discarding them. The weight of these heads would have varied depending on their size and the density of the marble, providing a standardized measure for merchants and traders in transactions.