Oil Lamp


Thumbnail of Oil Lamp (1944.03.0089)

Detailed Images

Basic Information

Artifact Identification Oil Lamp   (1944.03.0089)
  1. Furnishings
  2. :
  3. Lighting Equipment
  4. :
  5. Lighting Devices
Artist/Maker None
Geographic Location
Period/Date Early Christian, 200 – 300 CE
Culture Egyptian, Coptic

Physical Analysis

Dimension 1 (Length) 12.4 cm
Dimension 2 (Width) 7.9 cm
Dimension 3 (Depth) 4.6 cm
Weight 141 g
Measuring Remarks None
Materials Ceramic--Earthenware
Manufacturing Processes Cast--Press-Mold,
Munsell Color Information waived

Research Remarks

Published Description

"The lamp, made of a fine-grained red clay covered with a thin red-orange slip, belongs to a group of mold-made lamps produced in the workshops of North Africa, especially Tunisia, and exported throughout the Mediterranean. Related to the fine African Red Slip Ware popular in the Late Roman world, they share a similar clay fabric and many of the same motifs (Hayes, 1972, pp. 310-14). On this lamp, which corresponds to Fulford and Peacock, Form 2B, the shoulders of the reservoir are rounded and rest on a flattened base with a molded ring joined to the stump handle at the back of the lamp by a ridge. A palm motif incised in the center of the base may have served as the potter's mark. The upper surface of the reservoir is relatively flat, having a slightly depressed circular discus pierced by two small filling holes, and a broad, somewhat convex rim. A ridge separating the discus from the rim extends down the projecting nozzle to form a broad channel terminated by a large wick hole, a feature devised to contain and direct the flow of oil spilled in the process of filling or transporting the lamp. The stock of motifs used to decorate lamps of this type includes geometric forms, animals, birds, kantharoi (handled vases), crosses, and holy persons from the Old and New Testament. The relief decoration on the World Heritage Museum lamp consists of two simple elements, a Christogram surrounded by a wreath in the center of the discus, and a herringbone pattern on the rim. Similar lamps may be seen in Graziani Abbiani, pp. 121-23, no. 383, pl. XVIII, fig. 70 (Museo Civico, Turin), and pp. 125-26, no. 395, pl. XIX, figs. 73, 74 (useo Civico, Tortona). For the significance of the Christogram motif, see p. 21."-Eunice Dauterman Maguire, Henry Maguire and Maggie J. Duncan-Flowers, Art and Holy Powers in the Early Christian House (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1989), 72.

Description N/A
Comparanda N/A

From Alexander to Augustus . Bohen, B. et al, University of Illinois, 1983. 1983P.0028. Maguire, Eunice Dauterman, Henry Maguire and Maggie J. Duncan-Flowers. Art and Holy Powers in the Early Christian House. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1989.

Artifact History

Archaeological Data N/A
Credit Line/Dedication Eleanor Parry Collection of Lamps and Candles
Reproduction no
Reproduction Information N/A

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