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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ |Antiquities| ▸ |Antiquities by Type| ▸ |Oil Lamps||View Options:  |  |  | 

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 very finest ancient lamps are priced under $300 and an attractive historical collection can be acquired for a reasonable amount of money.

Judean, "Daroma" Terracotta Lamp, 1st Century - First Half of 2nd Century A.D.

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“And you shall command the people of Israel that they bring to you pure beaten olive-oil for the light, that a lamp may be set to burn continually.” Exodus 27:20.

Adler writes, "The decorations testify that these lamps were manufactured and used by Jews." An olive spray, the source of the lamp fuel, ornaments the top of this lamp.

Adler also notes the site of the workshop or workshops for this group is uncertain but "it seems certain they were made in one location because of their common features."
AL34113. Jewish Terracotta Lamp, cf. Adler group 3.3.D.5, no. 325; Warschaw 107 -108, Superb; 9.5 cm (3 3/4"), finely made, ring handle, flat discus with olive branch ornamentation on shoulder, lily on volute nozzle; very attractive; SOLD

Early Christian, Late Roman, Antioch, Syria, Terracotta Oil Lamp, 5th Century A.D.

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AL34422. Christian oil lamp; cf. Warschaw 479 - 480, Anawati 296, Superb, 7.5 cm (3") long; buff terracotta, pointed handle, ridge around discus and nozzle forming channel, wreath design on shoulders, cross fourchée in nozzle channel; very attractive; rare; SOLD

Christian, Late Roman - Early Byzantine, Antioch, Syria, Terracotta Oil Lamp, Second Half of 4th - 5th Century A.D.

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V. Tzaferis has shown that depiction of the cross, in any form, began in the middle of the 4th century. This lamp is among the earliest examples of the cross used as a Christian symbol.

Lamps with similar ornamentation, but quite different in overall and obviously from a different workshop (Palestinian), were found in a tomb at Ein Yabrud (central West Bank, 7 km northeast of Ramallah) with a gold coin of Constantine.

AL34544. Christian oil lamp; 7.9 cm (3") long; cf. Adler 907 and Schloessinger 453 ff. (Ein Yabrud, different shape, etc. but certainly same period), Choice, buff terracotta, piriform shape, cross on nozzle with single raised band above, tongue handle, double molding around fill hole, radial design on shoulder, sharp carination with slight rim, raised base ring; rare; SOLD



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 Supplementary Series 18. (Oxford, 1977).
Bailey, D. A Catalogue of Lamps in the British Museum. Four volumes. (British Museum, 1975-96).
Bailey, D. Excavations at Sidi Khrebish Benghazi (Berenice). Volume III, Part 2: The Lamps. (Tripoli, 1985).
Bailey, D. Greek and Roman Pottery Lamps. (British Museum, 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, Volume IV, Part II: Terracotta Lamps. American School at Athens. (Princeton, NJ, 1930).
Broneer, O. Isthmai, Volume III: Terracotta Lamps. (American School at Athens: Princeton, NJ, 1977).
Djuric, S. The Anawati Collection, Ancient Lamps From the Mediterranean. (Ontario, 1995).
Ennabli, A. Lampes chrétiennes de Tunisie (Musée du Bardo et de Carthage) = Etudes d'Antiquités africaines. (Paris, 1976).
Goethert, K. Römische 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. (Ontario, 1980).
Howland, R. The Athenian Agora, Volume 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)
Menzel, H. Antike Lampen im Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum zu Mainz. Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum zu Mainz, Katalog 15. (Mainz, 1954).
Osborne, A. Lychnos et Lucema. Catalogue raisonné d'une collection de lampes en terre cuite trouvées en Egypte. Société archéologique d'Alexandrie. (1924).
Petrie, W. Ehnasya and Supplement. (London, 1904 - 1905).
Petrie, W. Gerar. British school of archaeology in Egypt|, 1928. (Vienna|, 1928).
Perlzweig, J. Lamps from the Athenian Agora. Excavations of the Athenian Agora, Picture Book No. 9. (Princeton, 1963).
Perlzweig, J. Lamps of the Roman Period, First to Seventh Century After Christ. The Athenian Agora Volume VII. American School of Classical Studies at Athens. (Princeton, 1961).
Rosenthal, R. & R. Sivan, Qedem 8, Monographs of the Institute of Archaeology: Ancient Lamps in the Schloessinger Collection, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 1978.
Schäfer, S. & L. Marczoch. Lampen der Antikensammlung. (Frankfurt am Main, 1990).
Shier, L. Terracotta Lamps From Karanis, Egypt, Excavations of the University of Michigan. The university of Michigan Kelsey Museum of Archaeology Studies 3. (Ann Arbor, 1978).
Slane, K. Corinth, Volume XVIII, Part II: The Sanctuary of Demeter and Kore, The Roman Pottery and Lamps. (American School at Athens: Princeton, NJ, 1990).
Sussman, V. Oil-Lamps in the Holy Land: Saucer Lamps: From the Beginning to the Hellenistic Period: Collections of the Israel Antiquities Authority. (Jerusalem, 2007).
Sussman, V. Ornamented Jewish Oil-Lamps From the Destruction of the Second Temple Through the Bar-Kokhba Revolt. (Jerusalem, 1972).
Sussman, V. Greek and Hellenistic Wheel- and Mould-Made Closed Oil Lamps in the Holy Land, Collection of the Israel Antiquities Authority. BAR International Series 2015. (Jerusalem, 2009).
Szentléleky, 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).

Catalog current as of Monday, October 21, 2019.
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Oil Lamps