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A zoomorphic bronze weight, Late Bronze Age

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This weight, in the form of a hedgehog, weighs 23.72 grams, which puts it at 7.906 grams for 3 shekels.  The Late Bronze Age is a guess, and I think the area that it came from is Mesopotamia, but it could be Egyptian as well. 

Does anyone have additional information?  Thanks

 Middle East, bronze hedgehog weight of 3 shekels, Late Bronze Age (circa 1200 - 1150 BC)

Approximately 25mm l x 15mm h x 13mm w; 23.72 grams


Edited by robinjojo
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That's a sweet hedgehog, @robinjojo Are you 100% sure it actually is a weight? I'm not saying it isn't, (weight-wise it will certainly fit in some shekel scale or another) but I haven't seen any hedgehog-shaped weights before. Lots of sphenoids and ducks, some frogs, shells, and scarab and others, but not hedgehogs. That doesn't mean they don't exist, of course. Have you seen any other hedgehog-shaped weight examples? Without something to compare it to it's hard to tell what it is, really. I did some quick searches in the database of some museums on hedgehog and weight, but nothing worthwhile came up. Since hedgehogs had an amuletic function in Egypt and Mesopotamia, could yours perhaps be an amulet instead? 

Perhaps you could ask the question in the Ancient Artifacts in groups.io. There's some very knowledgeable people there who can hopefully answer your question better than most people here.

Hedgehogs were relatively common as adjunct symbols/space fillers on old-Babylonian cylinder seals. As on this one:

cylinder seal | British Museum




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I have checked online for something similar, without success so far.  

CNG's Keystone Auction # 9 did feature a section of weights in varying shekel ranges, but not hedgehog weights.  Apparently duck-shaped bronze weights were quite popular.


It could be an amulet, but to the weight I am leaning more in the weight direction.  The 23.72 grams weight suggests a shekel denominated weight, but that could just be coincidental.

The search continues....

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Duck weights are lovely!☺️ I have a few in stone, but only one in bronze. It's of a later date, from the Achaemenid period. Not a looker, but It fits very nicely in the 8,3gr (give or take) Babylonian shekel range. At 259gr. it's a 30 shekel weight, or half a mina if you wish. The extra weight, if any, could be explained by corrosion or patina. I suspect there are some Aramaic letters on the body hidden under the patina, but it's too blurred to make out clearly even with a magnifying glass, let alone to clearly show them in a photograph. It's really amazing how precise Mesopotamian weighing could be. Recently I read an article on a find of a set of weights going all the way down to 1/60th of a shekel, or 0,14 gr!


10,6cm, 259 gr.

Good luck with your search! 

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Here's a bronze hedgehog described by the seller as Roman:



I have no idea if his attribution is correct.


An FYI for those who may not be aware of this: you can do antiquities searches at acsearch by adjusting the category in the dropdown menu at the top of the search page there. The antiquities database is limited compared to coin searches, but sometimes it's a useful tool.

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I guess that the bronze hedgehog weight could be later, possibly Roman.  I really have no knowledge in this area, but from what I have seen of the Late Bronze Age weights sold by CNG, they appear to be more minimalist in detail, while the OP weight quite detailed, albeit also stylized.  I don't know, but I do have my Babylonia frog, purchased from Harlan Berk a few years ago.  It, like the Late Bronze Age weights has the basic elements of a frog but not much else.

Babylonia, Old Period (circa 1894–1595 BC), frog, carved dendritic agate.  Purchased from Harlan Berk in 2019.

A river stone was probably used to create this object.  Some traces of the weathered, bleached skin can be seen in spots.

183.97 grams



Edited by robinjojo
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That is a very nice and hefty frog. Mine's tiny, I think mine would fit neatly on top of the head of yours. I believe it's about 20mm and jasper. Don't know its weight. It was sold as to me Mesopotamian (or Vorderasien, near-east), but given how common frog amulets were in Egypt, it may be Egyptian as well. Which is a nice way of circling back to your hedgehog problem. Perhaps you'll never know where it's from without findspot provenance: Mesopotamia, Egypt or some other place, but in my opinion the fact that the handiwork on your hedgehog is quite detailed doesn't rule out either. I've seen detailed handiwork on bronze weights attributed to Mesopotamia. I guess it really does take an expert.



Meanwhile, if you like artistic handiwork on weights, here's a really wonderful Babylonian example:

Babylonian Stone weight in the shape of a Grasshopper, Mesopotamia, ca. 2000- 1500 B.C.E. | Ancient art, Ancient sculpture, Mesopotamia (pinterest.com).

It's from Pinterest, unfortunately I couldn't find the original source.



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