2.1 Local lamps

The Hellenistic Period (4 cent. BCE 1 cent. BCE) marks the beginning of the manufacture of mold-made decorated lamps in Israel. Bowl lamps, made on a wheel, are gradually replaced by molded lamps. Wheel made lamps continue to be manufactured, but become much less popular.


Three groups of local lamps can be distinguished:

The first two types, the plain round lamps (HEL1) and the pinched bowl lamps (HEL2), are wheel made. The pinched bowl lamps continue, with variations, the Bronze Age and Iron Age lamps. The plain round lamps have some common features with the later molded lamps (type HEL3).


The second group includes the decorated radial lamps (type HEL.3). These lamps have pan-Hellenistic features and are similar to Broneer type XVIII. The early variants have one or two S shaped lugs. These protrusions degenerate into simple lugs. The later lamps are rounder in shape, without remains of the lug. The lamps usually have decorations on the nozzle and around the shoulders. The decorations include linear bands, floral designs and dots. These lamps, common throughout Israel, were the dominant type of lamps in the Hellenistic period.


The third group, including the Judean Radial lamps, (types HEL.5-6) is a regional lamp from the areas of Jerusalem and the Judean dessert. This mold made lamp has a short nozzle and a round, large and high body. The shoulders are decorated, usually with lines or dots.


HEL.1 Plain round lamps Although these lamps have the shape of later mold made lamps, they are wheel made. They are similar to lamps found in other countries, such as in Corinth and Egypt. The nozzle is long and the body is round. The sides have a slightly spherical profile and the bottom is flat or has a ring base. This type has a chronological development (according to Dor). The early lamps have finer proportions and usually a horizontal nozzle. The later ones are more round and their body is lower. The last lamp is different from the other lamps: it is finely made, the nozzle is short and wide, the body is round and high and it has a discus base.

Date: mid fourth cent. to the second cent. BCE.

HEL.2 Pinched bowl lamps These lamps are simple, undecorated and continue the form of lamps from the Bronze and Iron Ages. They are made from a small bowl, folded in the middle and pinched to form two holes, one for the wick and the other to fill the oil.

Date: second to first cent. BCE.

HEL.3 Decorated radial lamps These lamps are similar to the plain radial lamp, but are mold made and decorated. This type has several variants:

The early types have an S shape handle and are decorated on the nozzle and around the shoulders. Some of the lamps are made of black clay.

The second variant has one or two S shaped lugs or a simple protrusion. Some of the lamps are decorated with geometrical designs or radial grooves. Several lamps have red or black slip.

The third variant is globular in shape and has a long nozzle, decorated with a branch design. The shoulders are decorated with radial grooves.

Date: the early variant is dated to the third cent. CE. The other variants are dated to the second cent. until the first cent. BCE.

HEL.4 Judean radial lamps These lamps are mold made with a short nozzle and a round high body. The nozzle is decorated with one or two lines. The shoulders are decorated with short radial grooves or a star design. A clear smoothed join between the upper and lower parts of the lamp is visible at about 2/3 of the lamps height.

This type is very common in the Jerusalem area and the Judean dessert. However, it is also found in the Samaria area and in Tzipori.

Date: first cent. BCE.


HEL.5 Judean radial lamps with a circle of dots Similar to the Judean radial lamp but with a circle of dots around the filling hole. The dots can be situated in a groove or on a ledge. This type is usually cruder and larger than the Judean radial lamp.

Date: second half of the first cent. BCE.


2.2 Ephesus lamps

Two lamps from the collection are from Asia Minor or imitate these lamps, which are referred to as Ephesus lamps. These lamps are made of fine black clay. The nozzle is triangular in shape and the shoulders are narrow and decorated with floral designs. The discus is sunken and in one lamp (no. 70) has three small holes.


Date: In Asia minor these lamps appear from early in the second cent. BCE to the middle of the first cent. BCE. Local imitations continue until the first cent. CE.