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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.
|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. 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.|