4.1 Southern types

These lamps, found in the southern part of Israel during the third and fourth centuries, are a continuation of the Roman discus lamps (type R.2), with some changes. The nozzle is a continuation of the body, which gives the lamps a more oval shape, rather than the round shape of the Roman lamps. The filling hole is relatively large and surrounded by a wide rim. According to some scholars the lamps show a chronological development and are divided into types accordingly. However, there are some variations within each type, which might imply a need for a better classification.


The lamps were found around Jerusalem, Beth-Guvrin, Samaria, Ramallah and also in Jordan, mainly in burial caves.


Date: Third and fourth cent. CE (perhaps beginning of fifth cent.).


O.1 Early ovoid lamps with a large filling hole – the earlier lamps are small and flat. The shape of the lamps is rounder than the later lamps. The lamps have thick sides. The decorations resemble those of the Late Roman lamps and include volutes, ovolo band and double axes. Some of the lamps have a potters mark inside the ring base. The lamps usually have a small knob handle and a few have a red slip. Some of the lamps lack a handle and are similar to the lamps found in Antipatris.


O.2 Late ovoid lamps with a large filling hole – The later lamps are more elongated in shape, with a pyramidal or star shaped handle. Many have a red slip. The decorations vary and include geometrical shapes and floral designs.


4.2 Northern Types

Lamps from northern Israel, unlike the southern lamps, have various shapes and decorations. Therefore, each type will be described and characterized separately. The types may reflect the different populations (Jewish, Christian, Samaritan and Pagan) living in this area or geographical distribution.

N.1 Beit Shearim lamps – These pear shaped lamps have decorated shoulders, a small knob handle and a small discus, which is sometimes broken. This type has several variants, one of which is in the catalog. It has a trench on the nozzle and decorations deeply stamped into the clay.

Date: third and fourth cent. CE.


N.2 Bi-lanceolate lamps – In these lamps the nozzle and handle are part of the body, resulting in their special shape. The shoulders are relatively narrow and decorated with incised floral designs or a linear band. The filling hole is relatively large and surrounded by a wide rim. These lamps were found throughout the northern part of Israel, especially in Beit Shean and Hamat Gader.

Date: Fourth and fifth cent. CE.


N.3 Jebel Jofah lamps – A large quantity of these lamps was found in Jebel Jofah, in Amman. The lamps are round with a small nozzle. The shoulders are decorated with stamped bands of circles, lines, leaves and wavy lines. The filling hole is surrounded with several rims. The lamps have a small solid vertical knob handle, usually decorated with two lines.

This type is found in western Jordan – Jerash, Pella and Gadara, and also in northern Israel.

Date: Mid third to mid fourth centuries CE.


N.4 Phoenician lamps – These lamps, found mainly in the north of Israel and the southern part of Lebanon, are ascribed to the Phoenician population living in these areas. The lamps are made of fine yellow-pink clay and the decorations are stamped. The decoration on the nozzle is either a straight line ending in both ends with two small horizontal lines or two double volutes. The shoulders are plain or have a floral or geometric design around them. The discus is sometimes decorated with rims, linear bands or floral motifs. One rare lamp is square.

Date: Third –fourth cent. CE.


4.3 Beit Natif lamps

These lamps are named after the site where their workshop was found during excavations of two cisterns, in the southern part of Judea. They were imitated throughout Israel. The lamps are usually small and decorated with a large variety of designs and emblems. Some of the lamps have a red slip. Later imitations of these lamps continue until the sixth cent. CE (see chapter 6.2).

BN.1 Ovoid lamps – These lamps are similar to the Southern type lamps (type O.1-2), with some changes. The nozzle is slightly pinched and usually separated from the body by a band, usually a rope band. The shoulders are decorated with a band or repetitive motif, such as leaves, circles or small branches. The handle is usually pyramid shaped, with triangles or small lines decorating it.

Date: Fourth – fifth cent. CE


BN.2 Early bow shaped nozzle - These lamps have a bow shaped nozzle, which has a narrow ridge around its’ edge. The nozzle is pinched on its sides, giving the effect of volutes and is decorated. The body is round and the shoulders are curved and decorated with a variety of geometric and floral designs. The large filling hole is surrounded by a wide rim.

Date: Fourth – fifth cent. CE


BN.3 Late bow shaped nozzle – Similar to the early type except for the size of the nozzle, which is wider. The quality of the clay, the decorations and handle are cruder than the early types.

Date:  Fourth – fifth cent. CE


BN.4 Small lamps - This type is rare and no parallels are known. The shape of the lamp is the same as type BN.1, but the lamps are very small and have a loop handle. The use of such lamps is unknown, they might have been used as a game or votive lamps. The three lamps in this catalog were found together and are identical.

BN.5 Multiple nozzles or wick holes lamps – This type can be divided into two groups. The first group is similar to type BN.1 but the nozzle has two wick holes. The second group consists of large lamps with two separate nozzles. These lamps relate to the bow shaped nozzle in style and shape.

Date: Second half of the third cent. CE to the beginning of the fifth cent. CE.