How Did They Measure Weight in Ancient Times?

Weight, a fundamental physical quantity, has always been a vital aspect of trade and commerce. The concept of weight measurement goes back to ancient times when people used rudimentary ways to measure the weight of objects. In this article, we will explore how people measured weight in ancient times.

Primitive Methods

The earliest forms of weight measurement were primitive and involved using everyday objects as reference points. For instance, in ancient Egypt, they used stones with known weights to measure the weight of goods. Similarly, in Mesopotamia, they used grains such as barley and wheat to measure the weight of items.

Balance Scales

One of the most common methods for measuring weight was by using balance scales. These scales were used extensively in ancient Greece and Rome and were made from a simple beam with two pans attached at either end. Objects were placed on one side while weights were added to the other until equilibrium was achieved.


As trade became more complex and widespread, standardization of weights became necessary. Governments started issuing official weights which traders had to use in their transactions. For instance, in ancient China, Yuanshuai was a standardized unit of measure for weighing goods.

The Roman Libra

The Roman Empire was known for its impressive engineering feats but also for their sophisticated measurement system. The Romans developed the Libra which was a unit of mass equivalent to around 328 grams. It was widely used across Europe for centuries and even influenced modern-day measurements such as the pound.

The Steelyard Balance

Another type of balance scale that emerged during medieval times was the steelyard balance. This scale had an adjustable counterweight bar that could be moved along a graduated scale until equilibrium was achieved. The steelyard balance was particularly useful when weighing large or unevenly shaped objects.


In conclusion, weight measurement has come a long way since ancient times. From using primitive methods like stones and grains to developing sophisticated balance scales and standardized units of measure, humans have always strived for accuracy and fairness in trade. Today, we continue to use advanced weighing technology in fields like science, medicine, and commerce, making weight measurement an integral part of our lives.