The Byzantine Empire existed as a continuation of the Roman Empire in its eastern provinces, meaning that the form of these oil lamps shows strong similarities to the Roman style. Christianity was the predominant religion in the Byzantine world, and this is reflected in the decoration of the lamp, which could have been used for either domestic or ceremonial purposes. Doves were extremely important in early Christian symbolism, as this is the form which the Holy Spirit was said to have taken at the baptism of Christ.
Byzantine Oil Lamp with Motifs of Birds
A finely crafted terracotta oil lamp from the Byzantine Empire. The central filling hole is surrounded by symmetrical imagery, with each half featuring two birds, likely doves, drinking from a bowl. Above the filling hole is depicted a bough, possibly an olive branch, whilst below it is a cross.
Condition: Excellent condition