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Establishing Value

Weight Measures in Early Mesopotamia

This book explores the reasons for which weights and scales were used to measure goods in Early Mesopotamia (ca. 3,200-2,000 BCE). The vast corpus of cuneiform records from this period sheds light on the various mechanisms behind the development of this cultural innovation. Weighing became the means of articulating the value of both imported and locally-produced goods within a socioeconomic system that had reached an unprecedented level of complexity. This study provides a comprehensive analysis of this cultural and economic phenomenon, which simultaneously reflected and shaped the relationships between individuals and groups in Mesopotamia throughout the third millennium BCE.

Author Information

Vitali Bartash, Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich.


"Vitali Bartash has done an excellent job in bringing together and clarifying the cuneiform evidence for balance weights and the process of weighing in Mesopotamia in the late fourth through the third millennium BCE. The volume
is a must-read for anyone studying ancient mensuration and anyone interested in measurement systems in general." William B. Hafford in: Akkadica 140, 2019,85-94
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Audience: Economic historians and scholars of the Ancient Near East