Byzantine Christian Oil Lamp with Cross

£ 135.00

A finely crafted terracotta oil lamp from the Byzantine Empire. The lamp features an elongated body with a rounded nozzle. At its centre is a deep-set channel, leading from the large filling hole to the smaller burn hole. A large lug handle sits at the rear of the lamp, designed as a circular protrusion and decorated with an incised cross.  Two incised concentric circles adorn the base. The clay on such lamps ranges from a pinkish brown to a brown-green colouring and they would not have a slip.

Date: Circa 6th century AD
Condition: Very Fine. Some natural erosion to surface.


SKU: SA-79 Category: Tags: ,

The Byzantine Empire existed as a continuation of the Roman Empire in its eastern provinces, meaning that the form of these oil lamps shows strong similarities to the Roman style. Christianity was the predominant religion in the Byzantine world, and this is reflected in the decoration of the lamp, which could have been used for either domestic or ceremonial purposes. From Byzantine into early Islamic times, lamp decoration became more abstract, featuring lines, crosses, dots, and geometric shapes. Lamps like this one have also been called “animal head” lamps, due to the appearance of the knob on the handle, or “slipper lamps,” referring to the overall shape.

To discover more about Byzantine art, please visit our relevant blog post: The Byzantine Empire, Art and Christianity.


Weight 98.4 g
Dimensions L 10.5 x W 5.4 cm
Christian Ideology


Pottery and Porcelain



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