Byzantine Bronze Oil Lamp

SKU LO.1315

500 AD to 700 AD


6.50″ (16.5cm) high x 7″ (17.8cm) wide




Eastern Mediterranean

Gallery Location



This elaborate bronze oil lamp dates to the Byzantine era. The ring handle is surmounted by a leaf-shaped attachment incorporating a Christian cross. The filling hole is covered with a hinged lid bearing the head of a bull. The details are incredibly naturalistic with wide nostrils, deep-set eyes and short curved horns. Three thick strands of curly hair adorn the animal’s forehead. Around the cover a petal motif is repeated in two semi-circles, perhaps imitating the sun’s rays- highly appropriate given the purpose of the lamp. Where the spout begins a small moveable attachment survives, which may once have served as a handle to lift the bull head cover. The spout terminates in a wide circular opening for the wick.The majority of lamps in the ancient world were fashioned from clay. The use of bronze was a costly and luxurious alternative. – (LO.1315)

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