5.1 Samaritan lamps

This type comprises the largest number of lamps represented in the catalog. The population living in the Samaria region was mainly Samaritan but also included Jews, Christians and Pagans. The Samaritans developed a unique culture, including special symbols, art and lamps. The Samaritan lamps are characterized by their shape and decorations and appear from the end of the Roman period to the Early Islamic period. Other populations in the region used the lamps as well, and they are found throughout Israel and Jordan. The lamps can be divided into five types. These types show a chronological and typological development. The early types have some similarities with the lamps from the Late Roman period and the later ones are similar to the Early Islamic types.


S.1  Early Samaritan - These lamps, which comprise the largest group of Samaritan lamps in the collection, are usually small, low and round. However, a few lamps are unusually large. The nozzle is wide and short, with concave sides, usually decorated with a ladder design. The nozzle and the shoulders are decorated with a variety of designs, without leaving empty space (“horror vacui”). The discus was broken after purchase, probably since a closed lamp did not receive impurity. In some lamps the discus was not broken and no traces of use were found on the nozzle. The lamps usually have a star shaped handle. Some lamps have a horizontal loop handle. Some of the lamps have an elongated shape, which might indicate a later date.

This type, along with the “Daroma” lamps, are the most artistically decorated of Israeli lamps. The lamps are arranged according to their decorations: religious symbols (Biblical scenes, temples, menorah, altars etc.), jewelry, musical instruments, agricultural tools, floral and geometric designs.

Date: The end of the third or fourth cent. to the fifth cent. CE.

More pictures ....

S.2 Multi-nozzle lamps – These lamps have two or more wick holes. Two groups can be distinguished according to their shape: lamps similar to the early lamps and lamps with triangular shape.


S.3 Lamps with a trench – These lamps have a long nozzle with a deep trench along it, running down to the filling hole. The body is elongated and usually decorated with a rope band or a branch design around the shoulders. Some are also decorated with circles, semi circles, triangles or a net pattern. The shape of the handle varies and can be a star, knob or wing shaped.

Date: The end of the third or fourth cent. to the firth cent. CE.

S.4 Straight sided lamps ("box lamps") – These lamps are similar to type S1 in shape and decorations. The small nozzle is straight and not concave like the early type. The filling hole was broken after burnishing. The lamps have a small knob handle and a ring base. The lamps can be divided into two groups, according to their shape – round and elongated lamps.

The lamps were found along the coast and in the Samaria hills.

Date: End of the third cent CE to the fifth cent CE.


S.5 Beit-Shean lamps – This type of lamps is found in Beit-Shean and its surrounding area. Some are decorated with Samaritan symbols and, therefore, it was suggested that they were mainly used by the Samaritan population in this area.

The lamps are of high quality and the designs are well made. Their shape is elongated and the nozzle is usually wide. One of the most distinct features of this type is the protruding kite-shaped knob handle, which is also decorated. There is an unexplained protuberance at the base of almost all of the handles, maybe to give the large lamps some stability or strengthen the handle. The lamps are completely covered with ornamentation (“horror vacuis”), which is very rich and includes geometric designs, floral motives and Samaritan symbols.

This type is divided into seven variants according to the lamps’ shape and decorations (according to the division proposed for with the Beit Shean lamps).

Date: fifth and sixth cent. CE.

S.6 Late Samaritan lamps with a round filling-hole – The shape of these lamps are similar to the Islamic lamps – a long pear shape with a trench on the nozzle. The shoulders are decorated with branches and geometric designs. The filling hole is large and has a round shape

Date: sixth and seventh cent. CE.

S.7 Late Samaritan lamps with a horseshoe shaped filling hole – These lamps are identical to the previous type, except for the shape of the filling hole, which is horseshoe shaped.

Date: sixth and seventh cent. CE.