Eastern Roman Empire, ca. 400 to 600 CE. This is a cast bronze oil lamp with a large Byzantine cross projecting from the handle. It sits atop a decorative stand with the feet shaped into horse's hooves. The lamp itself has a wide, round, mouth. We've been joking around the office that it looks exactly like a genie's lamp -- though none of us have been lucky enough to be granted any wishes. 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. Size: 12-1/2" H x 5" W (31.8 cm x 12.7 cm).
Condition: Repair at midsection of stand, one small flare at base repaired, lid missing.
Provenance: Ex-private New Jersey collection acquired prior to 1980.
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