Holy Land Terracotta Oil Lamp with Cross Handle


A finely crafted terracotta oil lamp from the Holy Land. The lamp features an elongated body with a rounded nozzle. A thick ridge encompasses the filling hole and continues down the channel and around the nozzle. Transverse bars decorate the shoulder and a small circle is visible along the channel. A large lug handle sits at the rear of the lamp, moulded in the shape of a cross. Raised circles and lines further adorn the cross. The oil lamp sits on a flat base with a slightly raised ring foot. Residual soot can be seen from the burning of oils around the wick hole.

Date: 7th - 9th century AD
Provenance: Ex J R Mothersole collection of Holy Land artefacts, acquired 1940's-1990's.
Condition: Fine condition, slight chipping to the base and handle.


SKU: LD-433 Category: Tags: ,

Early Holy Land oil lamps, such as this fine example, have mostly been recovered in Khirbet el-Mefjer, near Jericho. They appeared at the beginning of the 7th century AD and became widespread during the Umyyad period (7th – 8th century AD), although examples have been found dating to the 11th century AD. This particular type, with a conical handle, is the earlier version and reaches its popularity in the 8th century. The form and decoration show continuation from late Byzantine examples, fused with the emerging Islamic local styles. Running animals, ornate birds, geometric patterns and foliage were all common design themes and human representation is markedly absent. Inscriptions are also common and appear in both Greek and Arabic, showing the fusion of both Christian and Muslim iconography. The animals seen here are ambiguous. They appear horned, with elongated, feline-like bodies and long tails and most likely represent a mythical animal, which was common.

To discover more about oil lamps in Antiquity, please visit our relevant blog post: Lighting The Way.

Weight 45.8 g
Dimensions L 10.5 x W 5 cm


Pottery and Porcelain


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