biltu [Akkadian]


In the Neo-Assyrian Empire, 9th – 6th centuries bce, a unit of mass belonging to the talent family of units, = 60 MA.NA = 3600 GÍN. The logogram is GÚ(.UN). Sometimes spelled out as bi-lat.

When a price is expressed in 'talents,' we always have the ideogram GUN, but a phonetic spelling bi-lat occurs in several places, in such a way as to leave little doubt that the phonetic reading of GUN in this connection was biltu. The meaning of this word was originally 'load,' what was 'carried' or 'brought.'

C. H. W. Johns.
Assyrian Deeds and Documents…. vol 2.
Cambridge: Deighton Bell and Co., 1901.
Page 270.

For other senses of the word, which are easily confused with the unit, such as bundle, the pack of a pack animal, and so on, see page 231 ff of

The Assyrian Dictionary of the Oriental Insitute of Chicago, volume B, page 231.

There were two types of bil-tu, a light and a heavy. The heavy could be specified as “GÚ.UN … ina danniti” and the light as “GÚ.UN … ina qalissi”, however, in the tablets which unit is meant is often ambiguous. The heavy bi-lat was about 60.6 kilograms and the light 30.3 kg.

The heavy talent (usually ina KAL-ti/te) is most frequently attested, the light talent only on one occasion to our knowledge, where it is also defined as the royal talent (1 GÚ ina QAL-si sǎ MAN).

J. N. Postgate.
Fifty Neo-Assyrian Legal Docments.
Warminster (UK): Aris & Philllips, Ltd., 1976.
Page 65.

The magnitude of the weight has been established by archeological finds for example, at Nimrud.

Revue d'Assyriologie et d'Archéologie Orientale. vol 18 (1921)
Pages 138-142


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