Holy Land Terracotta Oil Lamp from the Byzantine Period


A Byzantine moulded terracotta lamp, most commonly known as a slipper lamp. The decoration of the lamp is typically abstract, the shoulders feature vertical lines and vine scrolls in relief. The body tapers in at the nozzle with the wick hole slightly blackened from use. A conical knobbed handle is placed at the top of the lamp, now unfortunately chipped. Lamps such as this one are occasionally known as animal head lamps, due to the appearance of the knob on the handle.  The oil lamp sits upon a ring foot with a raised lines and curves decorating the base. Some encrustation and wear consistent with age. This type is known as Type Rosenthal et Sivan K, groupe 3- Hadad 32 var. 2.


Date: Circa 6th - 8th century AD
Provenance: From an ex SM collection, Israel, acquired 1970-1999.
Condition: Fine condition, slight encrustations to the base of the lamp and near the wick holes. Traces of usage and minor chipping to the surface along with a chip to the handle


SKU: AG-52 Category: Tags: ,

In Antiquity, a lamp was originally called a ‘lychnus‘, from the Greek ‘λυχνος’, with the oldest Roman lamps dating back to the third century BC. It is thought that the Romans took the idea for lamps from the Greek colonies of Southern Italy. During the Roman Empire, it became commonplace to use lamps in funeral ceremonies and for public purposes. Over time, the manufacture of lamps increased, and so did the variation in decoration, which depended mainly on the shape and size of the lamp. Common decorative themes depicted on the discus were entertainment scenes (such as gladiators in combat), common myths, and animals. Pottery oil lamps could be made in three different ways: handmade, wheel made, or by mould. The use of the mould (which was made from clay or plaster) quickly became popular, because one mould could produce several lamps.

To find out more about Ancient oil lamps please see our relevant blog post: Lighting The Way

Weight 72.5 g
Dimensions L 10 x W 6 cm

Pottery and Porcelain


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