Late Roman or early Byzantine Empire, ca. 500 to 800 CE. A cast bronze oil lamp that sits atop a decorative tripod stand. The lamp itself is the quintessential magic lamp, with a rounded body and elongated spout. We've been joking around the office that it looks like a genie's lamp - though none of us have been lucky enough to be granted any wishes. A small hinged lid with a dramatic finial capping it rises from the top of the bowl. The handle has an elaborate cross rising from it. The lamp is firmly attached to the stand, which terminates in three lion-like paws with masks at the knee. Size: 6.8" W x 10.5" H (17.3 cm x 26.7 cm)
Some scholars have noted that bronze lamps, with their increased cost over pottery lamps, were probably a kind of heirloom, and were also probably reserved for the richest households. Bronze lamps, which have been theorized to remain in a family for at least three generations because of their expense before being recast could also have additions added to them - like crosses or new lids - to suit changing styles. This particular type of lamp proved popular and several production centers for the style arose; ultimately they were distributed widely throughout the Eastern Roman Empire, reaching Asia Minor, Morocco, and even Central Europe.
Provenance: private East Coast, USA collection
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