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Byzantine Lamps Byzantine period 6th century C.E.

Byzantine Lamps Byzantine period 6th century C.E.

The pottery oil lamp was the principle means of producing light in ancient times. It also had a symbolic and cultic purpose, as is indicated by the profusion of lamps found in tombs: it served to light the way for the deceased, and as a link between the living and the dead. The light of the oil lamp often symbolized the human soul and his struggle between good and evil. Thus the saying: 'A lamp is called a lamp, and the soul of a man is called a lamp' (Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 30b). The fuel which burnt in these lamps was usually olive oil. The shape and decoration of the oil lamp changed and evolved quite rapidly through time, and also varied from culture to culture. Lamps, therefore, are convenient indicators for dating archaeological assemblages. In the Byzantine period, with the spread of Christianity in the region, it became common practice to decorate the lamps with Christian symbols. This lamp has a cross on its handle, and is decorated with schematic plant motifs.

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