Friday, July 1, 2016

Ancient Oil Lamp Displays

An ancient oil lamp is an object used to produce light continuously for a period of time using an oil-based fuel source. The use of ancient oil lamps began thousands of years ago and is continued to this day, although not commonly anymore.

Ancient Oil lamps were made of common pottery and first began to appear in Israel during the Neolithic Period. Throughout the centuries the shape of ancient oil lamps changed a great deal, and more elaborate designs were being implemented.

Ancient lamps were oval shaped, and flat on top. They actually had small bowls on one end, with the other end pinched real tight which formed a groove to hold the cotton or flax wick. One end of the wick would even float in the olive oil. Some of the lamps had a lid over the bowl. They were usually made of clay, but the more expensive lamps were made of bronze and sometimes even of gold. Some of these were very beautiful and would contain very elaborate decorations, many Roman lamps had images of their gods.

Ancient oil lamps come in many sizes and shapes and are made from different materials. Typical materials are terra cotta, bronze, silver, ceramics, etc. The styles and origins can include; Persian, Greek, Chinese, Judean, Roman, Byzantine, Islamic, etc. Many of the terra cotta oil lamps have a nozzle, pouring hole, and a handle. Typically, these ancient oil lamps are mounted from underneath with a metal or acrylic armature to properly support it safely. Most ancient oil lamps look nice on a slight angle down with the nozzle at the lower end. 10-31 Inc. has been custom mounting ancient oil lamps for over 30 years and makes a very nice stand for these pieces. This gives the lamp a nice smooth custom fit and (for metal armatures) you can paint the metal to match where it touches the oil lamp so it blends without distraction.

Another alternative for mounting ancient oil lamps is to do it yourself. Art Display Essentials has stock “spider mounts” that can be used for that very purpose. They come in a basic “X” shape. You can bend the arms up to cradle the ancient oil lamp from below, and then you cut off any excess metal that is unnecessary to hold the piece safely. This will give it a clean look. If you like you can paint the arms the same color as your ancient oil lamp to get a nice blended and non-distracting look. You can see these “spider mount” options here:

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