Oil Lamp

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Oil lamp 9th–10th centuries, Fustat (medieval Cairo), Egypt Molded ceramic Kelsey Museum of Archaeology, 1972.1.19

Oil lamp

This small molded oil lamp dating to the 9th–10th centuries is the oldest type of Islamic oil lamp found in Fustat (medieval Cairo), and it hardly differs from its Christian predecessors. The intricate relief patterns adorning the top of the lamp consist of abstracted vegetation, including stylized grape vines and a palm tree. When the lamp was lit, the rather shallow ornament would have been cast in higher relief due to the flickering light of the burning wick. The short spout bears scorch marks from lapping flames, and the interior is blackened from use.

Bibliography: Kubiak 1970, 3–6, fig. 1.

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