Lamp

A work made of glass, blown and tooled technique.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

Image actions

  • A work made of glass, blown and tooled technique.

Date:

6th century AD

Artist:

Byzantine; Eastern Mediterranean

About this artwork

This lamp was meant to be suspended from polykandela, or chandeliers, which hung from the ceiling. The early Byzantines, like the Romans before them, typically burned olive oil for light. Lamps made from glass such as this were more expensive than the numerous surviving terracotta examples, and they were likely used to light the most important part of a church, such as, the altar or the nave. Keeping the lamps lit was costly, and generous donors gave endowments to churches to literally keep the lights on. Emperor Constantine, for example, donated the revenue from seven large estates specifically for the maintenance of 174 lamps, polykandela, and candlesticks in the Basilica of Saint John Lateran in Rome.

Small lamps like this example held oil and a string wick that was pulled through a floating piece of wood or cork. Lamps were suspended, individually or in groups, in elaborate metal chandeliers.

Currently Off View

Ancient and Byzantine Art

Culture

Byzantine

Title

Lamp

Origin

Eastern Mediterranean Region

Date

501 AD–600 AD

Medium

Glass, blown and tooled technique

Dimensions

12.3 × 8.9 × 8.9 cm (4 7/8 × 3 1/2 × 3 1/2 in.)

Credit Line

Gift of Theodore W. and Frances S. Robinson

Reference Number

1949.1109

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email .

Share

Sign up for our enewsletter to receive updates.

Learn more

Image actions

Share