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Ancient Oil Lamps

The major use of the ancient lamp was illumination of homes, shops and public buildings. At Pompeii, around 500 lamps were used on one commercial street to light the shops. At religious festivals and games, an enormous number of lamps might be used and large quantities of lamps were used as votive offerings to the gods in temples. Many lamps are found in tombs where they were intended to light the way of the departed. The ancient lamp is an highly collected artifact. All but the most desirable and very finest ancient lamps are priced under $400 and an attractive historical collection can be acquired for a reasonable amount of money.

Roman Arabia, Gerasa, Decapolis (|Jerash, Jordan), Jerash "Daroma" Variant Oil Lamp, c. 2nd Century A.D.

|Oil| |Lamps|, |Roman| |Arabia,| |Gerasa,| |Decapolis| |(|Jerash,| |Jordan),| |Jerash| |"Daroma"| |Variant| |Oil| |Lamp,| |c.| |2nd| |Century| |A.D.|,
Jerash, Jordan is north of the national capital Amman. Inhabited since the Bronze Age, its known for the ruins of the walled Greco-Roman city Gerasa just outside the modern city. The historian Josephus mentions the city as being principally inhabited by Syrians, but also having a small Jewish community. "Jerash lamps" parallel the very similar Jewish "Daroma" lamps" of Judaea. A large group of "Jerash lamps" was found in a potters shop excavated in Jerash, hence the name. Some Jerash lamps have been found in Israel, at Beit-Guvrin, Nazareth, Caesarea, and other sites. Usually the nozzle is decorated with a fig or grape leaf, decorations on the shoulders vary but floral and geometric patterns are most common. This lamp is attributed to Jerash based on its reputed find location (said to be Northern Israel but perhaps actually Jordan) and on the color of the red slip, known there and rare elsewhere. Otherwise this lamp is a bit different from the typical Jerash "Daroma" lamp. Gerasa

AL93896. Jerash "Daroma" variant oil lamp; unpublished type; 8.6 cm (3 5/8") long; 6.4 cm (2 1/2") wide, Choice, complete and intact, tiny chip on shoulder, marks, c. 2nd century A.D.; mold made, fine buff clay, red slip, round body, flat discus ornamented with concentric linear and rope pattern rings, bow shaped nozzle, no handle, flat base; very rare; $180.00 SALE |PRICE| $162.00


Byzantine, Holyland (Syro-Palestinian), "Elongated" Pottery Oil Lamp, c. 500 - 650 A.D.

|Oil| |Lamps|, |Byzantine,| |Holyland| |(Syro-Palestinian),| |"Elongated"| |Pottery| |Oil| |Lamp,| |c.| |500| |-| |650| |A.D.|,
This type is identified by Adler as a Transjordan elongated lamp. The shoulders are narrow and ornamented with a wide variety of motifs including linear bands, geometric, and floral designs; the handle is tongue shaped projecting horizontally and decorated with three or more bands; the nozzle is decorated with geometric or floral designs or rarely a cross. The type is found in the northern part of Transjordan, and in Israel, mainly in northern Israel and the Beit Shean area. They date to the from the fifth to the middle of the seventh century. In the Hellenistic and Roman eras Beit Shean was the Decapolis city Scythopolis. Click the photo on the right of the Roman theater at Beit Shean, to learn more about the city. Scythopolis
AL21919. Transjordan elongated lamp; Adler type JOR.1, cf. 967; 8.3 cm (3 1/4") long, Average, intact, many small chips, handle broken, c. 500 - 650 A.D.; crude, mold made, elongated body, tongue shaped handle rising diagonally (broken), double rim around large filling hole, convex shoulders ornamented with geometric pattern of dots and lines; $60.00 SALE |PRICE| $54.00


Byzantine, Transjordan (Northern Israel or Jordan), "Elongated" Pottery Oil Lamp, 500 - 650 A.D.

|Oil| |Lamps|, |Byzantine,| |Transjordan| |(Northern| |Israel| |or| |Jordan),| |"Elongated"| |Pottery| |Oil| |Lamp,| |500| |-| |650| |A.D.|,
This type is identified by Adler as a Transjordan elongated lamp. Adler writes that the shoulders are narrow and ornamented with a wide variety of motifs including linear bands, geometric, and floral designs; the handle is tongue shaped projecting horizontally and decorated with three or more bands; the nozzle is decorated with geometric or floral designs or rarely a cross. The type is found in the northern part of Transjordan, and in Israel, mainly in northern Israel and the Beit Shean area.
AL21911. Transjordan elongated lamp; Adler Type 6.3/JOR.1, 968; mould-made; 9.9 cm (3 7/8") long, 6.4 cm (2 1/2") wide, near Choice, some chips to the buff slip exposing pink clay below, 500 - 650 A.D.; pink clay, buff slip, mold made, elongated body, handle rising diagonally, double rim around large filling hole, convex shoulders and sides of nozzle ornamented with alternating diagonal lines and lines of dots, three lines from wick hole to filling hole rim; $80.00 SALE |PRICE| $72.00


Roman Palestina or Arabia, Nabataean Pottery Oil Lamp, c. 225 - 300 A.D.

|Hanukkah|, |Roman| |Palestina| |or| |Arabia,| |Nabataean| |Pottery| |Oil| |Lamp,| |c.| |225| |-| |300| |A.D.|,
This lamp came to us in a group accumulated in Israel. The four Nabatean towns of Haluza, Mamshit, Avdat and Shivta, with their associated fortresses and agricultural landscapes linking them to the Mediterranean are in the Negev Desert, southern Israel today. In his, Nabataean Clay Lamps, an Analytical Study of Art and Myths, Nabil Khariy identifies lamps known from the Nabataean sites, especially Petra, which can be differentiated from Greek, Roman and Judaean parallels and identified specifically as Nabataean made. Khariy notes that although the Nabataeans lost their independence in 106 A.D., excavations clearly show aspects of Nabataean culture continued until late in the 6th century A.D. Khariy 66, similar to this lamp, is described as made with a local clay and cruder than similar lamps from non-Nabataean sites. Grawehr type J3, like this lamp, has a larger filling hole than most similar lamps. The larger filling hole is found on late examples of the type.
AL21908. Nabatean Oil Lamp; cf. Khariy 66; Grawehr J3 (Petra, 225-300 A.D.) Murray-Ellis p. 26, 16 (Petra, ND); Negev-Sivan p. 117, 129 (Mampsis, 75-200 A.D.), near Choice, intact, small chips in handle, c. 225 - 300 A.D.; reddish-brown clay, round body, small rounded nozzle, small knob handle, defined ridge separating shoulders from plain concave discus, ten stamped rosettes impressed around shoulders, very low ring base; $150.00 (138.00)


Late Roman - Byzantine, Holyland (Syro-Palestinian), "Elongated" Pottery Oil Lamp, c. 400 - 620 A.D.

|Oil| |Lamps|, |Late| |Roman| |-| |Byzantine,| |Holyland| |(Syro-Palestinian),| |"Elongated"| |Pottery| |Oil| |Lamp,| |c.| |400| |-| |620| |A.D.|,
This type is identified by Adler as a Transjordan elongated lamp. Adler writes that the shoulders are narrow and ornamented with a wide variety of motifs including linear bands, geometric, and floral designs; the handle is tongue shaped projecting horizontally and decorated with three or more bands; the nozzle is decorated with geometric or floral designs or rarely a cross. The type is found in the northern part of Transjordan, and in Israel, mainly in northern Israel and the Beit Shean area. They date possibly as early as the fifth century, mostly to the sixth century and extending into the first half of the seventh century. In the Hellenistic and Roman eras Beit Shean was the Decapolis city Scythopolis. Click the photo on the right of the ancient ruins at Beit Shean, to learn more about the city. Scythopolis
AL21923. Transjordan elongated lamp; Adler type JOR.1, cf. 967 ff.; 8.9 cm (3 1/2") long, Average, significant losses of the original surface and ornamentation around the filling hole and on shoulders, yet still potentially functional, c. 400 - 600/620 A.D.; pink-orange clay, cream slip, mold made, elongated body, tongue shaped handle rising diagonally ornamented with three vertical bands, convex shoulders and nozzle ornamented with a pattern of radiating lines, circles, arcs and dots; $45.00 SALE |PRICE| $40.50


Late Roman - Byzantine, Holyland (Syro-Palestinian), Bi-Lanceolate Pottery Oil Lamp, c. 300 - 500 A.D.

|Oil| |Lamps|, |Late| |Roman| |-| |Byzantine,| |Holyland| |(Syro-Palestinian),| |Bi-Lanceolate| |Pottery| |Oil| |Lamp,| |c.| |300| |-| |500| |A.D.|,
Adler notes these lamps are found throughout the northern part of Israel, especially in Beit Shean and Hamat Gader, and date to the fourth and fifth centuries. Hamat Gader was already a well known health and recreation site in Roman times, mentioned in Strabo, Origen and Eunapius, as well as the Rabbinic literature. Construction of the bath complex began in the 2nd century by the 10th Roman Legion, which was garrisoned in nearby Gadara (modern Umm Qais). The ancient Hebrew name means hot springs of (the ancient city of) Gadara. The Arabic name El-Hamma preserves this, and the name of the tel located near the site, Tel Bani, is a corruption of the Latin word meaning "baths." The photo on the right is the inscription of empress Aelia Eudocia's poem praising the qualities of the springs at Hamat Gader, placed where visitors could see it as they went into the pool. Click the photo to see a larger image, translation and more information.Hammat Gader Baths
AL93921. Bi-lanceolate pottery oil lamp; Adler Collection (website) type N2; cf. Schloessinger 450; Bailey BMC -; 8.3 cm (3 1/4") long, near Choice, complete and intact, tiny bumps and chips, c. 300 - 500 A.D.; pink-buff clay, mold made with incised and punched decoration, the body includes the entire lamp from tip of nozzle to tip of handle, wide rim surrounds a large fill hole, row of pellets in annulets around shoulders, two incised lines lengthwise on the handle; $55.00 SALE |PRICE| $49.50


Late Roman - Byzantine, Holyland (Syro-Palestinian), Bi-Lanceolate Pottery Oil Lamp, c. 300 - 500 A.D.

|Oil| |Lamps|, |Late| |Roman| |-| |Byzantine,| |Holyland| |(Syro-Palestinian),| |Bi-Lanceolate| |Pottery| |Oil| |Lamp,| |c.| |300| |-| |500| |A.D.|,
Adler notes these lamps are found throughout the northern part of Israel, especially in Beit Shean and Hamat Gader, and date to the fourth and fifth centuries. Hamat Gader was already a well known health and recreation site in Roman times, mentioned in Strabo, Origen and Eunapius, as well as the Rabbinic literature. Construction of the bath complex began in the 2nd century by the 10th Roman Legion, which was garrisoned in nearby Gadara. The site includes a Roman theater, which was built in the 3rd century with 2,000 seats. The empress Aelia Eudocia composed a poem praising the qualities of the multiple springs which was inscribed so that visitors could see it as they went into the pool. The photo to the right is section of the mosaic pavement recovered from the 5th century Hamat Gader synagogue, now installed in the entrance hall of the Supreme Court of Israel. Click the photo to see a larger image.Hammat Gader Mosaic
AL93887. Bi-lanceolate pottery oil lamp; Adler Collection (website) type N2; cf. Schloessinger 450; Bailey BMC -; 8.3 cm (3 1/4") long, near Choice, complete and intact, some wear, c. 300 - 500 A.D.; pink clay, cream-buff slip, mold made with incised decoration, the body includes the entire lamp from tip of nozzle to tip of handle, wide rim surrounds a large fill hole, patterned band surrounding rim, row of pellets in annulets around shoulders, incised lines lengthwise on the nozzle and handle, ring base with two concentric circles within; $55.00 SALE |PRICE| $49.50


Late Roman - Byzantine, Holyland (Syro-Palestinian), "Elongated" Pottery Oil Lamp, c. 400 - 650 A.D.

|Oil| |Lamps|, |Late| |Roman| |-| |Byzantine,| |Holyland| |(Syro-Palestinian),| |"Elongated"| |Pottery| |Oil| |Lamp,| |c.| |400| |-| |650| |A.D.|,
This type is identified by Adler as a Transjordan elongated lamp. Adler writes that the shoulders are narrow and ornamented with a wide variety of motifs including linear bands, geometric, and floral designs; the handle is tongue shaped projecting horizontally and decorated with three or more bands; the nozzle is decorated with geometric or floral designs or rarely a cross. The type is found in the northern part of Transjordan, and in Israel, mainly in northern Israel and the Beit Shean area. They date possibly as early as the fifth century, mostly to the sixth century and extending into the first half of the seventh century. In the Hellenistic and Roman eras Beit Shean was the Decapolis city Scythopolis. Click the photo on the right of the Roman theater at Beit Shean, to learn more about the city. Scythopolis
AL93909. Transjordan elongated lamp; Adler type JOR.1, cf. 967 ff.; 9.0 cm (3 1/2") long, Average+, complete and intact, earthen encrusted, c. 400/500 - 600/650 A.D.; pink clay, mold made, elongated body, tongue shaped handle rising diagonally, double rim around large filling hole, abstract floral-geometric ornamentation on the shoulders and nozzle, very low ring base with dot in center; $70.00 SALE |PRICE| $63.00


Byzantine, Transjordan (Northern Israel or Jordan), "Elongated" Pottery Oil Lamp, c. 500 - 650 A.D.

|Oil| |Lamps|, |Byzantine,| |Transjordan| |(Northern| |Israel| |or| |Jordan),| |"Elongated"| |Pottery| |Oil| |Lamp,| |c.| |500| |-| |650| |A.D.|,
This type is identified by Adler as a Transjordan elongated lamp. Adler writes that the shoulders are narrow and ornamented with a wide variety of motifs including linear bands, geometric, and floral designs; the handle is tongue shaped projecting horizontally and decorated with three or more bands; the nozzle is decorated with geometric or floral designs or rarely a cross. The type is found in the northern part of Transjordan, and in Israel, mainly in northern Israel and the Beit Shean area. They date possibly as early as the fifth century, mostly to the sixth century and extending into the first half of the seventh century. In the Hellenistic and Roman eras Beit Shean was the Decapolis city Scythopolis. Click the photo on the right of the ancient ruins at Beit Shean, to learn more about the city. Scythopolis
AL93914. Transjordan elongated lamp; Adler type JOR.1, cf. 971 (similar ornamentation); 8.6 cm (3 3/8") long, Average, a little lopsided (as made), encrusted with hard deposits (as seen in the photo), c. 500 - 620/650 A.D.; pink clay, mold made, elongated body, tongue shaped handle rising diagonally ornamented with three vertical bands, double rim around large filling hole, radiating bands on convex shoulders, geometric motif of dots and lines on nozzle; $50.00 SALE |PRICE| $45.00


Late Roman - Byzantine, Holyland (Syro-Palestinian), "Elongated" Pottery Oil Lamp, c. 400 - 650 A.D.

|Oil| |Lamps|, |Late| |Roman| |-| |Byzantine,| |Holyland| |(Syro-Palestinian),| |"Elongated"| |Pottery| |Oil| |Lamp,| |c.| |400| |-| |650| |A.D.|,
This type is identified by Adler as a Transjordan elongated lamp. Adler writes that the shoulders are narrow and ornamented with a wide variety of motifs including linear bands, geometric, and floral designs; the handle is tongue shaped projecting horizontally and decorated with three or more bands; the nozzle is decorated with geometric or floral designs or rarely a cross. The type is found in the northern part of Transjordan, and in Israel, mainly in northern Israel and the Beit Shean area. They date possibly as early as the fifth century, mostly to the sixth century and extending into the first half of the seventh century. In the Hellenistic and Roman eras Beit Shean was the Decapolis city Scythopolis. Click the photo on the right of the ancient ruins at Beit Shean, to learn more about the city. Scythopolis
AL93920. Transjordan elongated lamp; Adler type JOR.1, cf. 969 (similar ornamentation); 9.1 cm (3 5/8") long, Average+, light encrustations, hole in shoulder (visible in photo), c. 400/500 - 600/650 A.D.; pink clay, mold made, elongated body, tongue shaped handle rising diagonally ornamented with three vertical bands, triple rim around large filling hole, radiating bands on convex shoulders, dots in circles and lines on nozzle; $60.00 SALE |PRICE| $54.00




  






REFERENCES|

Adler, N. Oil Lamps of the Holy Land from the Adler Collection. (Israel, 2004).
Alicu, D & E. Nemes. Roman Lamps from Ulpia Traiana Sarmizegetusa. BAR 18. (Oxford, 1977).
Amiran, R. Ancient Pottery of the Holy Land From its Beginning in the Neolithic Period to the End of the Iron Age. (New Brunswick, 1970).
Bailey, D. A Catalogue of Lamps in the British Museum. (British Museum, 1975-96).
Bailey, D. Excavations at Sidi Khrebish Benghazi (Berenice). Vol. III, Part 2: The Lamps. (Tripoli, 1985).
Bailey, D. Greek and Roman Pottery Lamps. (Portsmouth, 1963).
Baur, P. The lamps, The excavations at Dura-Europos conducted by Yale University and the French Academy of Inscriptions and Letters. Final report 4, pt. 3. (New Haven, 1947).
Broneer, O. Corinth, Vol. IV, Part II: Terracotta Lamps. (Princeton, 1930).
Broneer, O. Isthmai, Vol. III: Terracotta Lamps. (Princeton, 1977).
Djuric, S. The Anawati Collection, Ancient Lamps From the Mediterranean. (Toronto, 1995).
Ennabli, A. Lampes chrtiennes de Tunisie (Muse du Bardo et de Carthage). (Paris, 1976).
Frecer, R. Gerulata: The Lamps, A Survey of Roman Lamps in Pannonia. (Prague, 2014).
Goethert, K. Rmische Lampen und Leuchter. Auswahlkatalog des Rheinischen Landesmuseums Trier (Schriftenreihe des Rhein. Ldesmus. Trier, 14). (Trier, 1997).
Hayes, J. Ancient Lamps in the Royal Ontario Museum - I: Greek and Roman Clay Lamps. (Toronto, 1980).
Howland, R. The Athenian Agora IV: Greek Lamps and their Survivals, American School at Athens, 1958.
Israeli, Y. & U. Avida. Oil-Lamps from Eretz Israel - the Louis and Carmen Warschaw collection at the Israel Museum, Jerusalem. (Jerusalem, 1988)
Kehrberg, I. "Selected lamps and pottery from the Hippodrome at Jerash Syria" in Archologie, Art et histoire, 1989.
Menzel, H. Antike Lampen im Rmisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum zu Mainz. (Mainz, 1954).
Osborne, A. Lychnos et Lucema. Catalogue raisonn d'une collection de lampes en terre cuite trouves en Egypte. (Alexandria, 1924).
Petrie, W. Ehnasya and Supplement. (London, 1904 - 1905).
Petrie, W. Gerar. (Vienna, 1928).
Perlzweig, J. The Athenian Agora VII: Lamps of the Roman Period, First to Seventh Century After Christ. (Princeton, 1961).
Rosenthal, R. & R. Sivan. Ancient Lamps in the Schloessinger Collection. Qedem 8. (Jerusalem, 1978).
Schfer, S. & L. Marczoch. Lampen der Antikensammlung. (Frankfurt am Main, 1990).
Shier, L. Terracotta Lamps From Karanis, Egypt, Excavations of the University of Michigan. (Ann Arbor, 1978).
Slane, K. Corinth, Vol. XVIII, Part II: The Sanctuary of Demeter and Kore, The Roman Pottery and Lamps. (Princeton, 1990).
Sussman, V. Greek and Hellenistic Wheel- and Mould-Made Closed Oil Lamps in the Holy Land, Collection of the Israel Antiquities Authority. BAR 2015. (Jerusalem, 2009).
Sussman, V. Oil-Lamps in the Holy Land: Saucer Lamps: From the Beginning to the Hellenistic Period: Collections of the Israel Antiquities Authority. BAR 1598. (Jerusalem, 2007).
Sussman, V. Ornamented Jewish Oil-Lamps From the Destruction of the Second Temple Through the Bar-Kokhba Revolt. (Jerusalem, 1972).
Sussman, V. Roman Period Oil Lamps in the Holy Land: Collection of the Israel Antiquities Authority. BAR 2447. (Oxford, 2012).
Szentlleky, T. Ancient Lamps. (Amsterdam, 1969).
Tushingham, D. Excavations in Jerusalem, 1961-67, Vol. I. (Toronto, 1985).
Walters, H. Catalogue of the Greek and Roman Lamps in the British Museum. (British Museum, 1914).

See Lamp in NumisWiki for additional references.

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