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Mesopotamian Mensuration: Balance Pan Weights from Nippur

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image of Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient

Balance pan weights are used in both manufacture and trade and therefore are a correlate of economic activity. Ancient examples can provide insight into the nature and extent of ancient economies. Many ancient weights have been discovered at the site of Nippur in Iraq and most are here analyzed for the first time. Common weight forms at Nippur are those that are typical across the ancient Near East, but a single system of weight measurement is strongly indicated in statistical analysis. This is in contradiction to most analyzed sites farther north, where many weight systems are simultaneously in play. It seems to indicate Nippur's relative isolation within a socio-economic system, reflecting a general lack of incoming merchants or craftspeople from distant regions. Utilisés à la fois dans la manufacture et le commerce, les poids de balance à plateaux représentent un correlat de l'activité économique. Ceux datant de l'Antiquité peuvent donc nous donner un aperçu de la nature et de l'étendue des économies antiques. Ils sont nombreux à avoir été découverts sur le site de Nippur, en Irak, et la plupart est ici analysée pour la première fois. Les formes de poids les plus communes à Nippur sont celles que l'on retrouve typiquement dans tout le Proche-Orient. Mais l'analyse statistique suggère fortement l'existence d'un système unique de mesure du poids, ce qui est en contradiction avec les analyses précédemment menées dans les sites plus au nord, où plusieurs systèmes de mesure étaient simultanément en vigueur. Ces éléments semblent donc indiquer que Nippur était relativement isolé au sein d'un système socio-économique, ce qui montre que le nombre de marchants ou d'artisans extérieurs provenant de régions lointaine était généralement peu élevé.


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