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GLS 458, top & side views
GLS 458, top & side views

Ratl Weight

GLS 458

Fustat, Egypt

datable 144–52 AH (759–69 AD)

GLS 458, top & side views

Ratl Weight

GLS 458

Fustat, Egypt

datable 144–52 AH (759–69 AD)

yellowish-green glass appearing black; tooled, stamped or pressed

7.2cm x 7.9 x 5.5cm

This important glass weight bears the seal of Abu Khalid Yazid ibn Hatim ibn Qabisah al-Muhallabi, the ‘Abbasid governor of Egypt between 144 and 152 AH (759–69 AD). There is a pontil mark underneath.

The weight, which is designated here as a standard ratl (ratl wafin, literally ‘complete’), is of 437 grams and is accordingly close to the standard ratl of 440 grams in Umayyad Egypt. Later, the Abbasids introduced a lighter ratl of 390–400 grams, as well as a great ratl (ratl kabir) of 493 grams, although many towns in Egypt adopted their own ratls or varied their weight according to the commodity weighed. Such large glass weights have been identified as official steelyard weights. The hole would allow it to slide along the steelyard arm. 

S.M. Goldstein et al, Glass. From Sasanian Antecedents to European Imitations, The Nasser D Khalili Collection of Islamic Art, volume XV, London 2005, cat.97, pp.92–3.