Roman bronze Steelyard
ca. 2nd – 4th century AD; length cm 52; According to one source, the steelyard was invented by Archimedes, the great Syracusan inventor, in the 3rd century BC. No examples of that early a date are attested but, since they changed little in form and appearance and continued in use until medieval times, it is often difficult to give a precise date to a specific steelyard. This steelyard is graduated on three sides with dotted letters and signs possibly in units of the Roman libra (pound). The original weight is included, six bronze containers and instruments are with the lot, and the steelyard is still equipped with swivelling collar (one of the two chains is not complete) and sack hooks; English private collection.