The text displayed on this lamp may be a trilingual inscription – which is a mixture of Greek, Syriac and Arabic. As the Arabic alphabet was formed between the 3rd and 4th century AD, and the letters such as ”d” on this oil lamp have been inscribed, it shows that a mixture of Arabic alphabets have been employed here. Early Islamic oil lamps, such as this fine example, have mostly been recovered in Khirbet el-Mefjer, near Jericho. They appeared at the beginning of the 7th century AD and became widespread during the Umyyad period (7th – 8th century AD), marking profound changes to the local material culture brought by the Moslem conquest of the region. The high degree of uniformity found in the production of oil lamps in the Syrian-Eretz Israel region was the result of the unification of large areas under a centralised government.
Rare Early Islamic Inscribed Terracotta Oil Lamp
A rare early Islamic terracotta oil lamp with a small chipped handle, featuring an oval body, pointed towards the nozzle, sitting on a raised ring foot. The shoulders have been inscribed in early Syriac, or early Arabic text, surrounding a large filling hole with a pronounced rim. An interesting aspect of this particular oil lamp, which distinguishes it from the others, is the inscription on the shoulders. This is relatively a rare feature, which is not commonly seen in similar early Islamic oil lamp examples.
Provenance: Ex major S.M., London, Collection 1970-2010.
Condition: Fine, chipped handle, black deposits on the nozzle where the wick was fired, light erosion of the terracotta due to ageing and some lime encrustations on the surface.
|Dimensions||L 9.5 x W 7 cm|
Near East (Western Asiatic)