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Oil Lamp: Gallery Label - Current


Minneapolis Institute of Arts



Institution Minneapolis Institute of Arts
Ancient lamps were made from a variety of materials including clay, glass, silver, gold, and bronze. These lamps had two primary parts: a basin for fuel and a nozzle through which a fibrous wick fed fuel to the flame. Olive oil was the primary fuel, although other types of oil probably were used in areas where olives did not grow. While the single-nozzle lamp was the most common, multiple-nozzle lamps, like this one, produced more light.

Decoration on bronze lamps, most often found on the handle, typically consists of animal, floral, and theatrical mask motifs. In the late 1st century BC the volute lamp shape was developed, in which stylized curls flank each side of the nozzle at its juncture with the lamp body. In this example, floral forms replace the volutes.

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Source: Minneapolis Institute of Arts
Rights: Copyright Minneapolis Institute of Arts
Added to Site: November 21, 2009