Antiquities > Oil Lamps

Mystery oil lamp

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I have not been able to find any reference for this oil lamp.

The spout is broken at the hole but there are traces of carbonization still visible.

It appears to have a broken loop handle at the rear.

The weirdest bit is that the centre hole is not a fill hole.  It goes right through and has cylindrical walls so the interior chamber is not breached.  Instead, the fill hole is at the rear as part of the handle assembly.


Mark Fox:
Thursday, September, 30, 2021

Dear Shawn and Board,
A very interesting piece, Shawn! 

As for the hole, I am no expert on such things at present, but I can visualize it being used as a rod insert for a lamp stand.  And if the stand accepted several lamps, it would probably make for a fairly impressive sight and bright idea for a ecclesiastical setting.

Best regards,

Mark Fox

Well, this is certainly a long shot, but to me the decoration and form appears very bird-like.  Strobilus2 (David Knell) has an article on his website about central tubes in Hellenistic oil lamps intended as finger holes to aid in grasping and carrying safely.  Perhaps this lamp was intended to sit in the hand of a statue?  At any rate, a beautiful and interesting piece!


Virgil H:
This is really interesting and I am no expert, but I have an observation from the pictures, although I may be totally wrong. But, where is the spout? What you describe as a broken handle looks more like a broken spout to me. The fill hole on the left in the top picture looks like it was the handle as well. The through hole is very interesting and it certainly makes sense it was used for mounting. But, there has to be a burn spout somewhere, right? Or is that the same as the fill hole?


Virgil H:
And I just realized I totally misread your post. Mine should really be deleted as you said exactly what I said.



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