The idea of giving the weights the shape of an animal undoubtedly dates back to the very high period, some 3500 years BC, when the first accounting system was developed, which was to lead to the invention of writing in the East.
The commodities counted were materialized with small artefacts made of clay. Some of them were geometrical, all conventional. Others were in the form of "heads" of cattle, poultry, or even fruits, furniture, etc.
Much later, at the time when the Sumerian kings decided to codify the laws, shortly before 2000 BC, the idea spread to shape the weights in the shape of ducks, reminding by their beautiful simplification the small models of old. And the Susa Elamites, neighbors of the Sumerians and Babylonians, adopted this form with predilection, taking the trouble to indicate the weight in "mana", a word of which we have made "mine", a value of 505g.
Series of decreasing weights were thus formed; such series were deposited in the tombs of the wealthy Susians, next to scales. Do they indicate that the deceased were merchants? This is possible, but one can also think of an allusion to the weight of the soul after death, although literature is very discreet on this point.
Reproduction in patinated resin
Height: 6,5 cm.
Length: 9 cm.
Depth: 6 cm.
Origin: Iran, Suze.
Period: Middle of the 2nd millennium BC.
Museum: Paris - Museum of the Louvre.