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Early Christian Clay Oil Lamp Roman Judaea Phoenicia Israel Palestine 100ad For Sale
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Large Genuine Intricately Patterned Ancient Roman/Phoenician/Early Christian Holyland (Judaea) Terra Cotta Oil Lamp about 100 A.D.
CLASSIFICATION: Roman/Phoenician/Judaean Terra Cotta Oil Lamp with Palm Frond Design. “Manufacturer’s Second” – Blemished Fill Hole.
ATTRIBUTION: Eastern Roman Empire (Ancient Accho, Phoenicia), First Century A.D.
Length: 101 millimeters (4 inches).
Width: 59 millimeters (2 1/3 inches).
Height: 37 millimeters (1 1/2 inches).
CONDITION: Chipped handle with small (stable) puncture. Some hard and stubborn alkaline soil deposits – removable. Otherwise of good integrity. Moderate soot stains around wick hole. Moderate chipping around fill hole and wick hole consistent with use in ancient Judaea.
DETAIL: This is a very nicely decorated terracotta oil lamp dated to the first century A.D. Its origin is the area referred to as "The Holy Land", during Roman occupation, the province of Judaea. The top surface of the oil lamp portrays a fairly common but ornate palm branch design. The design present on the top, as can be seen, is even after the passage of almost 2,000 years, still quite sharp and distinct. You can see that the handle of this vessel is chipped up a bit, but this is fairly common wear. In fact, it is not uncommon for the handle to be entirely chipped off. The chipping to this specimen is relatively mild.
You can also see that there are a few light alkaline soil deposits covering some areas of the lamp. The alkaline soil is of course consequence of being buried for two thousand years under the caustic soils of what are now present day Palestine, Israel, and Lebanon. These light deposits can be removed with a fingernail – though they are almost cement-like in their tenacity. But with some patience, the oil lamp could be cleaned of these adhesions (if desired). The style of the lamp is very characteristic of the lamps manufactured for domestic use in the Roman Provinces of Palestine and Judaea. They were mold produced, and the upper and lower halves were joined while still damp (but not wet) before they were allowed to dry and then baked. They were produced in huge quantities both for local consumption as well as export throughout the Roman Empire.
You can see that this specimen is a bit of a “manufacturer’s second”. When the top half of the vessel is joined to the bottom half, then before the clay hardens it is necessary to cut out the fill hole. It appears that someone waited a bit too long, as this vessel had clearly hardened before someone got around to removing the material necessary to create the fill hole. Consequentially rather than a neatly trimmed hole, this has a jagged hole while was clearly broken through rather than neatly trimmed. Again, these were mass-produced and someone simply fell behind the the task, and the clay had hardened by the time they got around to trimming out the fill hole. It’s really nothing other than an interesting anomaly, but the fill hole is not as attractively and neatly trimmed as is the norm for these vessels. You might see that as a detrimental aspect, or you might see it is something which adds a uniqueness to this particular vessel.
Notwithstanding the chipped handle and ragged fill hole, the lamp is in very good condition. There does exist the normal amount of chipping around the fill hole and wick hole consistent with usage in the ancient world. Typically the area immediately around the fill hole is lightly chipped, as is this specimen, as the oil was refilled from a clay oil bottle/pitcher. Of course the constant contact between the bottle and the lamp when refilling the lamp causes the area around the fill hole to become worn. Likewise there is the normal soot stains around the wick hole consistent with usage in the ancient world. More often than not there is also a little chipping around the nozzle, as is the case with this specimen, caused by the heat generated by the burning wick. The intense heat might often case small chips of earthenware to flake away. Again as is the case with this specimen, very characteristic indicators of use in an ancient household.
With respect to using the finished product, oil was filled into the center hole, and a wick placed in the front hole. You could still fill this vessel with vegetable oil today and with the addition of a wick, use it for decorative lighting 2,000 years after it was produced. Despite the slight damage to the area around the handle and to the fill hole, the light alkaline soil deposits the oil lamp remains a sturdy little artifact. It is a remarkable, poignant, and evocative relic not only of the glory that was the Roman World, but of early Judaism and Christianity; and as well the ancient world of the Phoenicians, that marvelous civilization who introduced to the world both the wheel and the alphabet.
HISTORY: Pottery is amongst the most abundant artifacts unearthed during excavations of Roman, Byzantine, and ancient Judaean and Hebrew sites. Abundant throughout the empire, specimens such as this were even routinely and systematically exported by the Romans and their Byzantine successors. Manufactured throughout the empire the product was widely distributed throughout the Mediterranean world and even beyond into Britain, Spain and Germany. Oil lamps like this were utilitarian implements both for the kitchen, dining table, and for general household lighting. Think of them not only as a table lamp, but also as a flashlight. Most terra cotta pieces such as this were functional items, and tended to be rather plain – but oil lamps were oftentimes an exception, and could be ornately decorated. The most widely used pottery in the ancient world were oil lamps, bottles, unguentariums, pitchers, bowls and plates. Their basic shapes remained unchanged for over a thousand years. The bottles and pitchers were used to store wine, water, oil and other liquids.
This particular specimen came from the ancient city of Accho. Although Accho, present-day Acre is now part of Israel it was once part the Roman Province of Syria-Phoenice, adjacent to the Roman Province of Judaea. In fact, it is quite possible that this lamp was produced in Judaea and “exported” to Accho, less than 100 miles North of Jerusalem and present-day Tel Aviv. The ancient empire of Phoenicia, destined to become both part of the Hellenic and Roman Empires, was in its own right one of the more significant ancient cultures in the world's history. The area that ultimately became known as Phoenicia (derived from the Greek name Phoinikes) was at the western end of the Fertile Crescent, and was settled sometime around 3000 B.C. There anthropologists believe that the westward expansion of these peoples from Mesopotamia met the Mediterranean.
The earliest record of the Phoenicians is from about 1600 B.C. There they developed one of the earliest ancient and great seafaring Western cultures, using commerce as their principal motivation and source of influence. In fact, their name for themselves seems to have been Kena'ani (or Canaanites), a word which in Hebrew means "merchants." The prophet Ezekiel in his Biblical foretelling of the fall of one of Phoenicia's great cities, Tyre, reviews the extensive scope of Phoenician trade. It is believed that Byblos was the first city founded in Phoenicia, followed shortly thereafter by Tyre and Sidon. The later two cities gained prominence after about 1300 B.C., when Byblos was repeatedly sacked and razed by successive waves of raiders. The Phoenicians developed a vast commercial empire with settlements which stretched as far as North Africa and the coast of Spain.
Phoenicia was centered along the coast of what is now Lebanon, but as the centuries past it expanded along the coast north and south. Ugarit to the north was absorbed, and to the south substantial settlements grew into cities which survive in modern Israel; Accho (contemporary Acre), Joppa (Tel Aviv-Yafo) and Dor (Nasholim). However the Phoenicians were more of a trading empire, and never much of a political or military empire like the ancient Greeks and Romans who succeeded them. Consequentially Phoenicia was almost always under the dominion of another political-military empire. After about 1000 B.C. for instance, the Assyrians required regular tribute payments for their king. Before the Assyrians were the Egyptians, and following the Assyrians were the Persians, then the Greeks under Alexander, and finally the Romans.
However regardless of what throne claimed the land and the cities of Phoenicia, they nonetheless maintained economic independence. To the ancient Phoenicians the first order of business was business, and political considerations were secondary. It was only a question of to which throne tribute was to be paid. Thus the ancient Phoenicians were compelled to pushed west in search of new resources and commodities, founding great cities like Utica, and Carthage, a center that grew to become the biggest city in the western Mediterranean and the principal maritime and commercial center. In the process, and formed long-lasting alliances with many other regional powers such as the Kingdom of Israel. Unfortunately, as with much of what was once Phoenicia, little remains of the great cities that stood at the center of this ancient maritime power. None of the original buildings they lived in and temples they built are still standing, and there is no great wealth of art depicting exactly how they lived.
Unfortunately the Roman Empire was not satisfied with anything less than complete subjugation. Conflict between Phoenicia and the Roman Empire in the 3rd century B.C. (the Punic Wars) led to the total destruction of Carthage in particular, and the Phoenician Empire in general. The end witnessed a dispersion of its forces and people, and, for all practical purposes, the end of the era of Phoenicia's part in the development of the Mediterranean. However the Phoenician people themselves continued to thrive, trade, and flourish, despite their incorporation into the Roman province of Syria. The Roman Empire had become the paramount player in the region, and would tolerate no political, economic, or ideological competitor. And so the great Phoenician Empire was crushed underneath the feet of the Roman Legions and disappeared. However the great legacy of the alphabet, higher learning, and the capital cities of Phoenicia's past - Byblos, Sidon, Tyre, Ugarit and Carthage, survive even to today as testaments to the vitality of that ancient empire.
One of the greatest civilizations of recorded history was the ancient Roman Empire. In exchange for a very modest amount of contemporary currency, you can possess a small part of that great civilization in the form of a 2,000 year old ancient artifact. The Roman civilization, in relative terms the greatest military power in the history of the world, was founded in the 8th century (B.C.). In the 4th Century (B.C.) the Romans were the dominant power on the Italian Peninsula, having defeated the Etruscans and Celts. In the 3rd Century (B.C.) the Romans conquered Sicily, and in the following century defeated Carthage, and controlled the Greece. Throughout the remainder of the 2nd Century (B.C.) the Roman Empire continued its gradual conquest of the Hellenistic (Greek Colonial) World by conquering Syria and Macedonia; and finally came to control Egypt in the 1st Century (B.C.).
The pinnacle of Roman power was achieved in the 1st Century (A.D.) as Rome conquered much of Britain and Western Europe. For a brief time, the era of “Pax Romana”, a time of peace and consolidation reigned. Civilian emperors were the rule, and the culture flourished with a great deal of liberty enjoyed by the average Roman Citizen.However within 200 years the Roman Empire was in a state of steady decay, attacked by Germans, Goths, and Persians. In the 4th Century (A.D.) the Roman Empire was split between East and West. The Great Emperor Constantine temporarily arrested the decay of the Empire, but within a hundred years after his death the Persians captured Mesopotamia, Vandals infiltrated Gaul and Spain, and the Goths even sacked Rome itself.
Most historians date the end of the Western Roman Empire to 476 (A.D.) when Emperor Romulus Augustus was deposed. However the Eastern Roman Empire (The Byzantine Empire) survived until the fall of Constantinople in 1453 AD. At its peak, the Roman Empire stretched from Britain in the West, throughout most of Western, Central, and Eastern Europe, and into Asia Minor. Valuables such as coins and jewelry as well as more ordinary personal and household articles were commonly buried for safekeeping, and inevitably these ancient citizens would succumb to one of the many perils of the ancient world. Oftentimes the survivors of these individuals did not know where the valuables had been buried, and today, two thousand years later caches of coins and jewelry, as well as household and personal possessions are still commonly uncovered throughout Europe and Asia Minor.
Due to its fragile nature this particular piece is shipped in an oversized box with lots of Styrofoam peanuts. Domestic shipping (insured first class mail) is included in the price shown. Domestic shipping also includes USPS Delivery Confirmation (you might be able to update the status of your shipment on-line at the USPS Web Site). Canadian shipments are an extra $9.99 for Insured Air Mail; International shipments are an extra $17.99 for Air Mail (and generally are NOT tracked; trackable shipments are EXTRA). ADDITIONAL PURCHASES do receive a VERY LARGE discount, typically about $5 per item so as to reward you for the economies of combined shipping/insurance costs. Your purchase will ordinarily be shipped within 48 hours of payment. We package as well as anyone in the business, with lots of protective padding and containers.
We do NOT recommend uninsured shipments, and expressly disclaim any responsibility for the loss of an uninsured shipment. Unfortunately the contents of parcels are easily “lost” or misdelivered by postal employees – even in the USA. If you intend to pay via PayPal, please be aware that PayPal Protection Policies REQUIRE insured, trackable shipments, which is why we include insurance and a USPS Delivery Confirmation at no extra charge (international tracking is at additional cost). We do offer U.S. Postal Service Priority Mail, Registered Mail, and Express Mail for both international and domestic shipments, as well United Parcel Service (UPS) and Federal Express (Fed-Ex). Please ask for a rate quotation. We will accept whatever payment method you are most comfortable with. If upon receipt of the item you are disappointed for any reason whatever, I offer a no questions asked return policy. Send it back, I will give you a complete refund of the purchase price (less our original shipping costs).
Most of the items I offer come from the collection of a family friend who was active in the field of Archaeology for over forty years. However many of the items also come from purchases I make in Eastern Europe, India, and from the Levant (Eastern Mediterranean/Near East) from various institutions and dealers. Though I have always had an interest in archaeology, my own academic background was in sociology and cultural anthropology. After my retirement however, I found myself drawn to archaeology as well. Aside from my own personal collection, I have made extensive and frequent additions of my own via purchases on (of course), as well as many purchases from both dealers and institutions throughout the world – but especially in the Near East and in Eastern Europe. I spend over half of my year out of the United States, and have spent much of my life either in India or Eastern Europe. In fact much of what we generate on Yahoo, Amazon and goes to support The Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, as well as some other worthy institutions in Europe connected with Anthropology and Archaeology.
I acquire some small but interesting collections overseas from time-to-time, and have as well some duplicate items within my own collection which I occasionally decide to part with. Though I have a collection of ancient coins numbering in the tens of thousands, my primary interest is in ancient jewelry. My wife also is an active participant in the “business” of antique and ancient jewelry, and is from Russia. I would be happy to provide you with a certificate/guarantee of authenticity for any item you purchase from me. There is a $2 fee for mailing under separate cover. Whenever I am overseas I have made arrangements for purchases to be shipped out via domestic mail. If I am in the field, you may have to wait for a week or two for a COA to arrive via international air mail. But you can be sure your purchase will arrive properly packaged and promptly – even if I am absent. And when I am in a remote field location with merely a notebook computer, at times I am not able to access my email for a day or two, so be patient, I will always respond to every email. Please see our "ADDITIONAL TERMS OF SALE."
On May-11-13 at 02:25:33 PDT, seller added the following information:
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Early Christian Clay Oil Lamp Roman Judaea Phoenicia Israel Palestine 100ad: $130