Sep 11 – 16, 2022
University of Warsaw
Europe/Warsaw timezone

On the Scale of the Empire : Weights Design and Late Roman Ideology (4th-8th c.)

Sep 14, 2022, 9:40 AM
Auditorium Maximum - Hall D

Auditorium Maximum - Hall D


Pierre Charrey (UCLouvain / FNRS)


For four centuries, Roman merchants, collectors and money changers used normalized weights. These unparalleled instruments soon became a medium for a homogenous repertoire of forms and images. The precious materials, the iconography and the inscriptions engraved by the imperial factories incapsulate an array of references to the visual culture of citizens. Actors of an ecumene that was both Roman and Christian, those weights signified to the people their inclusion in the same political community. It is the cultural implications of this metrological revolution that this paper seeks to uncover. Indeed, the semiotics of the weights could play a significant role in their reception. Integrated into a control device comprising techniques and discourses, the aesthetics of measure ensures the acceptance of tax payments at the heart of densely monetarized trade. Eventually, it appears that these small monuments bring to light a unique phenomenon in the production of political representations.

Primary author

Pierre Charrey (UCLouvain / FNRS)

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