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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ |Antiquities| ▸ |Near East Antiquities| ▸ |Holy Land Antiquities||View Options:  |  |  |   

Syro-Palestinian (Holy Land) Antiquities

The Holy Land, also called the Syro-Palestinian region, includes Syria, Phoenicia, Palestine, and Judaea.

Byzantine Empire, Levante or Alexandria, c. 5th - 6th Century A.D., Jewish Menorah Lead Token

|Holy| |Land| |Antiquities|, |Byzantine| |Empire,| |Levante| |or| |Alexandria,| |c.| |5th| |-| |6th| |Century| |A.D.,| |Jewish| |Menorah| |Lead| |Token||token|
The purpose of Byzantine era lead tokens is unknown. Many appear closely related to seals differing only by the absence of a cord or channel for attachment to a container or document. Many late Roman and early Byzantine seals have a figural type on one side and a legend in two lines in Latin or Greek on the other side. Seals with a menorah are known, usually with a blank globular reverse, but some also have a name on the other side.
JD98657. Lead token, personal token of Rodanos(?); Roma e-sale 53 (7 Feb 2019), lot 504 (same dies), VF, highlighting earthen deposit desert patina, weight 3.077 g, maximum diameter 14.1 mm, die axis 180o, c. 5th - 6th century A.D.; obverse Menorah of seven branches, flanked by lulav on left and etrog on right; reverse PO∆A/NOY in two lines across field, palm frond above; ex CNG e-auction 435 (2 Jan 2019), lot 401; extremely rare; $1800.00 SALE PRICE $1620.00


Canaanite, Cypriot Imitative Lentoid Terracotta Pilgrim Flask, Late Bronze Age - Early Iron Age, c. 1400 - 1100 B.C.

|Holy| |Land| |Antiquities|, |Canaanite,| |Cypriot| |Imitative| |Lentoid| |Terracotta| |Pilgrim| |Flask,| |Late| |Bronze| |Age| |-| |Early| |Iron| |Age,| |c.| |1400| |-| |1100| |B.C.|NEW
This flask came to us identified as a Cypriot flask found in Israel. This form is from Cyprus but most Cypriot specimens are "red lustrous ware." Click here to see a superb Cypriot flask in the British Museum. Our specimen is red-orange clay with a buff or brown slip and clearly cruder than the Cypriot examples. It is imitative of the Cypriot type, almost certainly made locally in Canaan. The referenced Canaanite flask is discussed in Trude Dothan's (1979), Excavations at the cemetery of Deir El-Balah (available online). Deir El-Balah is in the central Gaza Strip. The cemetery's main period of use spans the 13th century B.C., with a possible beginning in the 14th and extension into the 12th. The flask was found in grave 116, cut into the sandstone, and containing an anthropoid coffin and burial gifts that indicate, like other similar burials in the cemetery, the dead was of high position, had an Egyptian cultural affiliation, and must have lived in the area. Dothan notes several similar flasks from other Canaanite excavations, one dated c. 1250- 1200, and others found in a mixed Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age context.
BK23894. cf. Deir El-Balah (Qedem 10) p. 40, 29; see note 9 for a list of other finds; for Cypriot prototype see BM Online 1899-1229-102, Choice, complete and intact, slip worn, terracotta lentoid pilgrim flask, 19 cm (7 1/2") tall, red-orange clay with a buff-brown slip, asymmetrical lentoid body wheel made in two joined halves, long neck, mouth just slightly flared, single handle from shoulder to neck; ex Griffin Gallery of Ancient Art (Boca Raton FL); $1100.00 SALE PRICE $990.00


Canaanite, Palestine or Syria, Terracotta Figure of Baal on Horse, 1900 - 1600 B.C.

|Terracotta| |Antiquities|, |Canaanite,| |Palestine| |or| |Syria,| |Terracotta| |Figure| |of| |Baal| |on| |Horse,| |1900| |-| |1600| |B.C.|NEW
Muscarella notes of the very similar male figure in Ladders to Heaven, "The sylizations of the facial features and the headdress come closest to those seen on heads of figures found in the Hama Level H. Apparently similar fragmentary seated figures also appear at Hamma Level H, ALalakh Level, V, Elbla and at other sites in Palestine and Syria, sometimes with one or two similar implements held in the hands. Whether these implements have divine or royal significance is unclear, but they are surely indicative of status. The fact that several such figurines exist in clay, suggests to this writer that they emulate a well-known cult image holding the same symbols."

Curiously, in "Iron Age Figurines from Philistia," David Ben-Shlomo writes, terracotta horses and horses with riders are "especially abundant in Judaean sites." These figures are, however, of a very different style, and much later, from Iron Age II and the Persian period 1000 - 330 B.C.
AT23904. cf. Muscarella Ladders to Heaven 201 (very similar male figure on 4-legged stool) and 202 (very similar horse with saddle, no rider), near Choice, complete, right rear leg of horse reattached, museum quality, very rare, extremely rare complete, terracotta male figure (probably Baal - a god) seated facing on horse right, bearded, eyes and ears of pierced pellets, wearing ankle length garment and headdress with vertical incisions ornamenting brim, holding implement (axe?) in right hand, horse with saddle and pierced pellet eyes, from an Israeli dealer; $850.00 SALE PRICE $765.00


Roman Syria-Palestina, Jewish, Lead Bulla Seal, 7 Branched Menorah, c. 5th - 6th Century A.D.

|Seals|, |Roman| |Syria-Palestina,| |Jewish,| |Lead| |Bulla| |Seal,| |7| |Branched| |Menorah,| |c.| |5th| |-| |6th| |Century| |A.D.||bulla| |(tag| |seal)|
A bulla (plural, bullae) is a lump of clay or lead molded around a cord and stamped with a seal that identifies the sender. With a bulla in place, a container cannot be violated without visible damage to either the bulla or the cord, revealing the tampering. Bullae depicting a menorah are known but very rare and not well documented. Dattari-Savio p. 327, 3 is a 1901 rubbing of a very similar menorah sealing. Michael Still lists two menorah sealings in his thesis on Roman seals, 1696 with a Latin inscription reverse, 1765 with a Hebrew inscription reverse. The recently published catalogue of the Vossen collection by Gert Boersema and Bill Dalzell, has two Menorah seals, numbers 181 and 182, both with blank reverses. There are also a few examples known from auctions. A FORVM member posted a bulla of this exact type from his collection on the Classical Numismatic Discussion on the Forum Ancient Coins website. We received three examples of this type on consignment, all with the same fire damage, suggesting they were found together.
JD98655. Lead bulla (tag seal), VF, chip on reverse, light earthen deposits, raised bumps from exposure to an ancient fire that heated and expanded air bubbles within the lead, weight 4.679 g, maximum diameter 15.9 mm, c. 5th - 6th century A.D.; obverse seven branched menorah with tripod base; reverse lulav, uncertain Syriac inscription; very rare; $670.00 SALE PRICE $603.00


Roman-Byzantine, Syro-Palestinian, Glass Dropper Flask, c. Late 1st - Early 5th Century A.D.

|Glass| |Antiquities|, |Roman-Byzantine,| |Syro-Palestinian,| |Glass| |Dropper| |Flask,| |c.| |Late| |1st| |-| |Early| |5th| |Century| |A.D.|
Thick enamel-like weathering, as seen on this piece, is common on glass found in the Levant and this piece is certainly from the Levante. This flask is, however, a bit of a mystery. There is nothing very similar in the large library of ancient and medieval glass references held by Forum. It resembles an aryballos, but lacks the handles which define that type. It probably was used like an aryballos, to store and dispense scented oil which was rubbed on the skin and then scraped off to clean the body. The date is uncertain. Weathering obscures the original color, making another mystery, but the only other a similar flasks we know are described as opaque black glass.
AG20822. Isings -, et al. -; apparently unpublished but two similar pieces are known from the market (priced $2,500 - $3,000!), Choice, complete and intact, thick tan and brown enamel-like weathering, dropper flask, free-blown, amber(?) glass, 12.0 cm (4 3/4") tall, 8.5 cm maximum diameter, piriform body, very short narrow neck, broad flat folded in rim, round bottom with large pontil mark, not designed to stand on its own we will include a stand; from the collection of Alex G. Malloy, former dealer in antiquities for 40 years; very rare form; $500.00 SALE PRICE $450.00


Roman Syria-Palestina, Jewish, Lead Bulla Seal, 7 Branched Menorah, c. 5th - 6th Century A.D.

|Seals|, |Roman| |Syria-Palestina,| |Jewish,| |Lead| |Bulla| |Seal,| |7| |Branched| |Menorah,| |c.| |5th| |-| |6th| |Century| |A.D.||bulla| |(tag| |seal)|
A bulla (plural, bullae) is a lump of clay or lead molded around a cord and stamped with a seal that identifies the sender. With a bulla in place, a container cannot be violated without visible damage to either the bulla or the cord, revealing the tampering. Bullae depicting a menorah are known but very rare and not well documented. Dattari-Savio p. 327, 3 is a 1901 rubbing of a very similar menorah sealing. Michael Still lists two menorah sealings in his thesis on Roman seals, 1696 with a Latin inscription reverse, 1765 with a Hebrew inscription reverse. The recently published catalogue of the Vossen collection by Gert Boersema and Bill Dalzell, has two Menorah seals, numbers 181 and 182, both with blank reverses. There are also a few examples known from auctions. A FORVM member posted a bulla of this exact type from his collection on the Classical Numismatic Discussion on the Forum Ancient Coins website. We received three examples of this type on consignment, all with the same fire damage, suggesting they were found together.
JD98656. Lead bulla (tag seal), VF/Fair, light earthen deposits, raised bumps from exposure to an ancient fire that heated and expanded air bubbles within the lead, c. 5th - 6th century A.D.; obverse seven branched menorah with tripod base; reverse lulav, uncertain Syriac inscription (obscure); very rare; $340.00 SALE PRICE $306.00


Hellenistic Greek, Levant (Jerash, Jordan?), Terracotta Sunburst Lamp, c. 150 - 30 B.C.

|Oil| |Lamps|, |Hellenistic| |Greek,| |Levant| |(Jerash,| |Jordan?),| |Terracotta| |Sunburst| |Lamp,| |c.| |150| |-| |30| |B.C.|NEW
The Hellenistic sunburst design was meant to suggests the lamp is a little sun. Most similar published specimens have a small side lug (handle). This simpler type without a side lug is reputedly found mostly or entirely within areas once ruled by the Hasmonean Kingdom (Maccabees). It was apparently a smaller production and made for local use.

Jerash was ruled by the Hasmonean Kingdom from 99 - 63 B.C. after which it became part of the Roman province of Syria. The historian Josephus mentions the city as being principally inhabited by Syrians, but also having a small Jewish community. Roman era lamps made in Jerash are known for their "signature" red slip carelessly splashed on the upper half. FORVM received this lamp in a group that included several of the Jerash "Daroma" type oil lamps with the red slip. There are traces of that same color slip on the top of this lamp.
AL93900. Kennedy Type 2, cf. Adler 44 (lug on right shoulder), Warschaw 18 (decoration on nozzle), 8.7 cm (3 3/8") long, Choice, complete and intact, surface crack on bottom, slip worn, light encrustations, soot on nozzle, mold-made, orange clay, traces of red slip on top, round biconvex body, sunburst design on the shoulders around the fill hole, no discus, long tapering round tipped nozzle; $140.00 SALE PRICE $126.00


Roman, Holyland (Syro-Palestinian), Terracotta Disk Lamp, 150 - 300 A.D.

|Oil| |Lamps|, |Roman,| |Holyland| |(Syro-Palestinian),| |Terracotta| |Disk| |Lamp,| |150| |-| |300| |A.D.|NEW
The disk lamp, widely copied and produced in abundance, spread everywhere across the Roman Empire, starting from the second half of the 1st century A.D., throughout the 2nd century, and continuing into the 3rd century A.D. The popular acceptance of Roman lamps by Jews probably presented a problem for conservative Jews who remained suspicious of all things Roman. This likely accounts for the statement in the Mishnah that the Palestinian Rabbi Eliezer ben Hyrcanus (active around 80 - 120 A.D.) held that a lamp's filling-hole should be large enough for a small coin to drop through it. Roman lamps usually had a decorated discus and small filling-hole. The plain discus on many of these lamps produced in the Levant may have been an attempt by manufacturers to avoid offending conservative Jewish clients, who broke the discus to make a larger hole.
AL93939. Kennedy Type 5, cf. Warschaw 45 - 47 (incised decoration), Adler Type 3.5/R.2 (decorated); 8.1 cm (3 3/16") long, Choice, complete and intact, encrustation, red clay, buff slip, mold made, round disk body, small short rounded nozzle, no handle, concave discus with small offset filling hole, coarse finishing, undecorated; $100.00 SALE PRICE $90.00


Late Roman - Byzantine, Holyland (Syro-Palestinian), Bi-Lanceolate Pottery Oil Lamp, c. 270 - 500 A.D.

|Oil| |Lamps|, |Late| |Roman| |-| |Byzantine,| |Holyland| |(Syro-Palestinian),| |Bi-Lanceolate| |Pottery| |Oil| |Lamp,| |c.| |270| |-| |500| |A.D.|NEW
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. Sussman lists more than a dozen very similar lamps, most found at Beit Shean, and she dates them to the late third and fourth centuries. At this time,, Beit Shean, was primarily Christian, but evidence of Jewish habitation and a Samaritan synagogue indicate established minority communities. 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 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 of the ancient Roman baths. Click the photo to see a larger image.Hammat Gader Baths
AL93918. Bi-lanceolate pottery oil lamp; Adler Collection (website) type N2; Sussman Late 3125- 3136; 8.0 cm (3 1/8") long, near Choice, complete and intact, encrustation, wear, soot on nozzle, c. 270 - 500 A.D.; pink-buff clay, mold made with incised decoration, the body includes the entire lamp from tip of nozzle to tip of "tongue" handle, wide rim surrounds a large fill hole, incised herring-bone geometric wreath pattern on narrow convex shoulders, two incised lengthwise lines on the handle, incised lines between fill hold rim and nozzle; $80.00 SALE PRICE $72.00


Late Roman - Byzantine, Holyland (Syro-Palestinian), Bi-Lanceolate Pottery Oil Lamp, c. 270 - 500 A.D.

|Oil| |Lamps|, |Late| |Roman| |-| |Byzantine,| |Holyland| |(Syro-Palestinian),| |Bi-Lanceolate| |Pottery| |Oil| |Lamp,| |c.| |270| |-| |500| |A.D.|NEW
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. Sussman lists more than a dozen very similar lamps, most found at Beit Shean, and she dates them to the late third and fourth 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 ancient Hebrew name means hot springs of (the ancient city of) Gadara (modern Umm Qais). 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 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 the ruins of the 5th century synagogue at Hamat Gader. Click the photo to see a larger image.Hammat Gader Synagogue
AL93923. Bi-lanceolate pottery oil lamp; Adler Collection (website) type N2; cf. Sussman Late 3126; Schloessinger 451; Bailey BMC -; 8.7 cm (3 3/8") long, nice Collectible condition, intact, surface chips, overall wear, soot on nozzle, c. 270 - 500 A.D.; pink clay, buff slip, mold made with incised and/or punched decoration, the body includes the entire lamp from tip of nozzle to tip of "tongue" handle, wide rim and incised groove surround a large fill hole, pair of grooves on handle, herring-bone geometric wreath pattern on narrow convex shoulders; $60.00 SALE PRICE $54.00




  



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REFERENCES

Adler, N. Oil Lamps of the Holy Land from the Adler Collection. (Israel, 2004).
Amiran, R. Ancient Pottery of the Holy Land From its Beginning in the Neolithic Period to the End of the Iron Age. (New Brunswick, NJ, 1970).
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.
Muscarella, O. Bronze and Iron, Ancient Near Eastern Artifacts in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. (New York, 1988).
Nigro, L. Tell Es-Sultan/Jericho in the Early Bronze II (3000-2700 BC): the rise of an early Palestinian city, A synthesis of the results of four archaeological expeditions. (Rome, 2010)
Rosenthal, R. & R. Sivan. Monographs of the Institute of Archaeology: Ancient Lamps in the Sala, M. "Early Bronze II pottery productions at Tell es-Sultan" in Tell Es-Sultan (Rome, 2010), pp. 253 - 323.
Schloessinger Collection
. Qedem 8. (Jerusalem, 1978).
Skupinska-Lovset, I. The Ustinov collection: The Palestinian pottery. (Oslo, 1976).
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. "Lamps - mirror of the sea" in Sefunim (Bulletin) of the National Maritime Museum Haifa, 8, 1994, pp. 80-100.
Sussman, V. Late Roman to Late Byzantine/Early Islamic Period Lamps in the Holy Land: The Collection of the Israel Antiquities Authority. (Oxford, 2017).
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).
Stanislau, L. Light and Life: Ancient Christian Oil Lamps of the Holyland. (Jerusalem, 2001).
Tushingham, D. Excavations in Jerusalem, 1961-67, Vol. I. (Toronto, 1985).

The list above includes only references specifically dedicated to holy land antiquities. Many other references will be used that are dedicated to specific antiquities types (e.g., lamps, pottery, weights) or by antiquities materials (e.g., glass, terracotta, metal). Antiquities not included in this list may be identified by clicking on them in the item descriptions or visiting the shop page for the antiquity type or material.

Catalog current as of Wednesday, July 6, 2022.
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