6.1 Local Byzantine Period lamps

During the Byzantine period there is almost no regionalism and the different types are found throughout Israel. Many of the lamps bear Christian symbols, such as the cross.

 

The most dominant type is the pear shaped candlestick lamp, which starts as a small lamp and later becomes larger.

BYZ.1 Small candlestick lamps In these pear shape lamps, the nozzle is part of the body and is usually marked with a rim or line. The decoration is uniform, consisting a linear band around the shoulders and a single motif on the nozzle. This motif can be a cross, volute, palm branch or amphora. Another common motif is a candlestick, which is sometimes referred to as a palm branch or a Menorah design (sometimes this type is called “Menorah design lamps”). The handle is marked with a small dot and the lamp has a ring base. 

The candlestick lamps are common mainly in Jerusalem and Judea but are also found in other parts of Israel.

Date: The small candlestick lamps are dated from the second half of the fourth cent. to the fifth cent. CE.

BYZ.2 Large candlestick lamps – These are the most common Byzantine Period lamps; they are similar to the small candlestick lamps but larger. The nozzle is usually decorated with a cross or a candlestick, which is connected to the outer rim of the filling hole. The shoulders are usually decorated, like the small lamps, with a linear band. The handle is marked with a small dot and the lamp has a ring base.

Some lamps bear a Greek inscription, which has four main formulae, all with Christian orientation and connected to light. One formula is presented in the collection: “the light of Christ shines for all”.

This type of lamps, like the small lamps, is found in all of Israel.

Date: These lamps have some congruence in time with the small candlestick lamps and continue after them. The lamps are dated from the end of the 5th cent. to the seventh or eighth cent. CE.

 

BYZ.3 Multi-nozzle lamps – These lamps are the same type as the small candlestick lamps (BYZ.1) but have multiple nozzles or wick holes.

Date: Second half of the fourth cent. to the fifth cent. CE (same as the small candlestick lamps).

 

BYZ.4 Lamps with high handles - These lamps are similar in shape to the candlestick lamps but have a high handle, usually cruciform. The lamps’ shape and their distribution, suggest that they originate from northern Israel, southern Syria and Lebanon.

Date: sixth cent. to seventh cent. CE.

BYZ.5 Round lamps with decorated discus and a spatulate nozzle – These lamps, sometimes referred to as “Caesarean lamps”, are round with a small and wide nozzle. Their shoulders are usually slightly curved, narrow and decorated with geometric designs. The lamps have a sunken discus, decorated with a large variety of decorations, such as rosettes, amphorae, crosses and other Christian symbols. Only a fragment of a discus of this type is represented in the collection. The discus is decorated with a common Christian motif, consisting of a cross in between two birds.

These lamps are found mainly along the coast and in northern Israel.

Date: fifth cent to beginning of the sixth cent. CE.

BYZ.6 Ovoid lamps – These lamps are similar to the Beit-Shearim lamps and later Islamic lamps. They have an ovoid pointed body, a trench on the nozzle and fully decorated shoulders (“horror vacui”). The decorations comprise mainly of geometric, zoomorphic and floral designs. The sunken discus is also decorated, usually with a flower.

This type is found only in the northern part of Israel and southern Lebanon.

Date: Late sixth cent. and the first half of the seventh cent. CE.

 

BYZ.7 High shouldered lamps –While most of the lamps after the Hellenistic Period were mold made, these lamps are wheel made. Moreover, from the Late Islamic period onward wheel made lamps become common. These lamps are round with a protruding nozzle. The shoulders are high and usually ridged, like the two examples in the catalogue. A loop handle rises from the filling hole and is folded down to the middle of the lamps’ body.

The lamps are found mainly in southern Israel, although some were found in the north.

Date: Late sixth or early seventh cent. to the end of the seventh cent CE.

 

6.2 Beit Natif imitations

These types of lamps are considered to be a continuation of the Beit Natif lamps (See 4.2 Northern Type). Their shape is more elongated with a less concaved nozzle. The decorations resemble those of the Beit Natif lamps. The handle is larger and square shaped in the early lamps and conical shaped in later ones.

BN.6 Early imitation of the bow shaped nozzle lamps – These lamps are similar to the late bow shaped nozzle lamps with some variations. They are usually larger, the nozzle is not rounded but slightly concave and in most cases have straight decorated sides. The decorations are similar to the bow shaped nozzle lamps and include amphorae, grape vines and geometric designs. The shoulders are narrow and decorated with a linear pattern or wreath band. All lamps have a straight knob handle, sometimes decorated with a palm branch or lines.

Date: fifth to sixth cent CE.

BN.7 Late imitation of the bow shaped nozzle lamps – These lamps still have some features of the Beit Natif lamps, but also resemble the later sixth and seventh cent. CE lamps. The nozzle is still slightly concave, lower than the early type and ends in almost a straight line. The decorations on the nozzle continue the tradition of the Beit Natif lamps. The shoulders are narrow and are decorated with a linear band, ovolo band or floral designs. The filling hole is large and surrounded by several rims. The handle is a small conical knob.

The lamps are found in the northern part of Israel and Transjordan

Date: sixth cent. CE.

 

6.3 Lamps from Transjordan

This chapter presents three types of lamps, originating from Transjordan. These types differ from one another with no common features and thus will be described separately.

JOR.1 Elongated lamps – These lamps have an elongated body, convex shoulders and a slightly concave nozzle, which is decorated with geometric designs or rarely with a cross. The shoulders are narrow and decorated with a large variety of motifs, the main ones being linear bands or geometric and floral designs. The handle is tongue shaped, projecting horizontally upward and decorated with three or more lines.

These lamps are found in the northern part of Transjordan. They are also found in Israel, mainly in northern Israel and the Beit Shean area.

Date: fifth to sixth cent. CE and maybe also the beginning of the seventh cent. CE.

JOR.2 Pentagonal lamps - These lamps have a pentagonal shape, with a broad nozzle, narrow shoulders, and a flat base. The lamps are completely covered with decorations, consisting of geometrical designs. Some lamps have Greek inscriptions. These lamps have some similarity to the late imitations of the Beit Natif lamps and might have originated from it.

The lamps appear throughout Transjordan and in some of the northeastern sites of Israel.

Date: The 6th cent. CE.

JOR.3 Jerash Byzantine lamps – This type of lamps is characterized by its elongated shape and especially by its large high handle, ending with an undefined zoomorphic head. The nozzle, which is part of the body, is decorated with lines, circles or has a trench. The shoulders are usually decorated with a linear band and in some cases with inscriptions in Greek or Arabic Kufic script. The handle, in addition to its special form, is sometimes decorated with a cross or lines, circles and other geometric designs.

These lamps are the only type of lamp that have their manufacture place and date written on them. According to the finds from Beit Shean it seems that this type was also manufactured there. They are very common in Transjordan and much less in Israel.

Date: The date of the lamps also differs according to these two regions. In Transjordan the lamps begin to appear in the Byzantine Period but are found more during the Umayyad and Abbasid Periods. In Israel, it seems that they start to appear in the Byzantine Period and continue to the beginning of the Umayyad Period (sixth cent. to eighth cent CE).

 

6.4 North African lamps

This type of lamp originated in North Africa and is closely related to the North African Red Slip Ware. Their exact origin is unknown. Some suggest Tunisia (Hayes), while others suggest Egypt and Cyrenaica.

 

The lamps are finely made and are covered with a smooth, thick red slip. The lamps have an elongated or ovoid shape. The nozzle is long and has a trench on it, with no decorations. The wide shoulders are decorated with geometric designs. The sunken discus is usually decorated with a single motif, which can be a figure, animal, palm tree, Cross, Menorah, flower or a biblical scene.

 

These lamps are found throughout the entire Mediterranean countries and were imitated locally.

 

They are classified according to the division suggested by Hayes, which differentiates between two main groups.

 

NA.1 Early North African lamps - These lamps have an ovoid body, large discus and a trench on the nozzle, linking it to the discus. The handle is pierced or has a plain knob shape.

Date: fourth and beginning of the fifth cent. CE.

NA.2 Late North African lamps – These lamps have a more elongated shape then the early lamps. Their nozzle is long and has a deep trench, continuing to the discus. The shoulders are wide and flat and the discus is sunken. The lamps usually have a plain high knob handle.

Date: Second half of the fifth cent. CE. 



Home