‘Plastic’ oil lamps were figurine types which first appeared in the Hellenistic period. They grew in popularity in the 1st – 2nd century AD, especially amongst the Egyptian and Italian workshops. They grew out of fashion in the 4th century with the emergence and rise of Christianity and the dissolvent of idolatry worship. These moldmade figures, were considered the luxury items for the poorer classes, used as votive offerings, as statues in the home and even as toys for children. Some were created to stand, with a small chamber for oil a simple wooden wick, whilst others were designed to hang.
Bendis was a Thracian goddess associated with hunting and the moon. She was often dressed in a Phrygian cap and held either a spear or torch, as she was associated with the light of the moon. She is often associated with Artemis and Hekate, both hunting and moon goddesses but remains distinct. Her worship spread into Attica from Thrace and she gained popularity in the 5th and 4th century BC. It was also believed that Bendis may have been one of seven daughter’s of Zeus who were turned into swans.
To discover more on oil lamps, visit our blog post: Oil Lamps in Antiquity