Holy Land Terracotta Oil Lamp with Makers Mark


A Holy Land oil lamp moulded from terracotta featuring an ovoid shaped body with a prominent rectangular handle. The shoulder rises up to the central filling hole and is decorated with geometric motifs. The shoulder displays a row of vertical lines framed by a thick ridge which encompasses the filling hole and continues down the channel and around the nozzle. A prominent ridge outlines the filling hole and a geometric motif of a cross and circle enriches the channel. The oil lamp sits on a ring foot with the makers mark ‘M’ at the centre. 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, chip to nozzle and slight cracks to the body and base.


SKU: LD-431 Category: Tag:

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 107.4 g
Dimensions L 9.1 x W 6.5 cm


Pottery and Porcelain


You may also like…