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LAMP MAKER TO LIGHT THE JUDEAN PAST

Jewish Lamps Artist Frank Egan


CALIFORNIA SCULPTOR TO REINTERPRET THE ANCIENT “DAROM” LAMPS



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Jewish Bronze Oil Lamps History title

Ancient Clay Oil Lamps title

Ancient Clay Oil LampToday’s power outages quickly remind us of ancient man’s ways of dealing with the natural cycles of light to dark. Their daily chores of hunting and gathering ceased at sundown.

To the ancients, this element of fire was looked upon as a great spiritual provider. They, as well as the other creatures had to share the same water sources and the fires enabled them to keep beasts at bay, kept them warm and roasted their food. Their observations of the interaction of the heat and damp soil (clay) in this environment quickly led to the development of various vessels of need i.e., saucers, urns, and lamps. Their nights were no longer a time of fear and uncertainty.

Ancient Clay Oil Lamp 2
During this period dating back to 25,000 - 3,000 BC the clay lamp designs developed very slowly. A simple saucer of fish oil, animal fat or vegetable oil in the center supplied with a woven fibrous wick could give ample light to a small room. Eventually these saucers were modified with pinched sides for wick rests and easier spillage control of the fuel.

The general style and construction remained relatively the same until about the 4th or 5th BC. During this period the bodies of the clay lamps began to close over the top and finally by 300 BC almost all lamps were of the closed body type.

As time progressed, artists began embellishing these enclosed vessels with nozzles, handles, and decorative designs as their function dictated. The manufacture, style and artistic expression, from this period forward, advanced rapidly and many diverse examples exist.


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Ancient Metal Oil Lamps History Title

Metal Oil Lamp AncientMost of the lamps from these periods (300 BC - 700 AD) were made in various forms from clay since metal lamps were expensive, luxury items. The few ancient metal lamps that have survived are useful to artists and metallurgists in that they show not only the remarkable metallurgic skills these people possessed but the classic artistry of form following function.

Due to the cost to execute any metal object, most refinement of metal castings or shaping was confined to military purposes. Lamps in metal were found in the houses of the wealthy and in the temples. However, many of them in times of strife found their way back as accoutrements of war.

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The individual artistic expression can be found in that there is no clear line of development. Many base design styles were borrowed from clay lamps and embellished in extravagant styles. Metal lamps are almost impossible to date with any accuracy, even when found in controlled archaeological excavations. Since they were unbreakable, they remained in use long after their particular style had passed out of fashion.



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© Frank Egan 2017