ROMAN OIL LAMP WITH HELIOS SERAPIS
Measurements: 11.8 cm – length, 8 cm - width
Description: A red-slipped mould-made terracotta oil lamp with a tapering tongue handle and a canal nozzle. The discus is surrounded by a prominent wreath-like border and into two parallel lines. The discus is decorated by an image of a Greco-Egyptian god Helios-Serapis/Helioserapis shown bearded, in a profile to the left, with long hair, draped, wearing modius crown with a halo of sun rays; a palm branch decorates the nozzle. The lamp has two fill-holes to each side of the image. A prominent round base has a seal of a workshop in the centre depicting a tripartite tree branch. On the bottom side of the nozzle there is relief olive branch, which also may be the sign of particular area of production.
The cult of Serapis was based on Egyptian composite cult of fertility deities Osiris and Apis and was strongly promoted by the Ptolemaic rulers of Egypt. They wished to base their power on the subjects acceptable to both local and foreign citizens of their domain. While the values of Egyptian religion were familiar to the Greeks, the idea of animalistic deities was alien. The Serapis cult was one of the bridges between the two traditions. Serapis became one of the major deities, the god of abundance and resurrection, and acquired the traits and attributes of other gods like Zeus, Dionysus, Hades and Helios. Helioserapis had a radiating sun crown and was considered the saviour solar deity of Hellenistic Egypt. The cult proliferated under Romans. At some point Serapis replaced Osiris as a part of divine triad with Egyptian goddess Isis and her son Harpocrates, a Greco-Egyptian version of Horus. Among constant attributes of Serapis are his Greek bearded appearance and modius, a grain-measuring basket.
Period: 2nd – 4th century AD
Condition: Very fine. With minor crazing to the slip.
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