Oil Lamps


History of illumination is fascinating subject indeed. Light itself had deep religious and symbolical meaning; it represented vital energy, force of nature allowing life to exist. Almost every organized cult in antiquity had some connotations with light and fire, some of them (like cult of Ahura Mazda in Iran or of god Helios in Late Antiquity) worshipped light on itself.

Speaking in more technical terms- in a world without electricity every source of extra light was desirable. Oil lamp was most famous form of lighting, made in thousands of different forms and from materials like bronze, clay or stone. Some of them are real masterpieces of decorative arts, hanging in temples and palaces; others are just simple models with basic ornaments made by simple craftsmen or even owners themselves. We should not underestimate the latter ones, though; they are very important source of information for historians about believes, interests and culture of the common people, sometimes only trace of their existence. Analyzing these oil lamps, scholars can e.g. detect different forms of cults nonexistent in written sources, and which happened to be quite popular among normal citizens of Rome and Greece. As a common form of equipment found in every home, they were produced by mass, and were used as important form of information, advertisement (e.g. lamps with images of favorite gladiators, actors or politicians) and defining identities in ancient world (earliest material evidence of existence of Christian community came through such lamps).

„Hellas et Roma” members created dozens of such lamps on themselves; during the presentation you will know their history, function and practical usage. You can also buy some of them, and try in your own home how your perception will change when you switch off electricity!