Penn Museum Online Collection: Roman items

The Penn Museum online Collection is small but nice for the anyone looking to see Roman lighting and glass. They have a nice example of a glass stopper! This should give you the documentation for a similar stopper. There is an example of pressed glass in the mediterranean collection, and several blown glass flasks and pitchers, which look modern and elegant, and as they are very early A.D./C.E., it could be argued that similar pieces were likely possible throughout our SCA period, at least for the Eastern Roman Empire.

Also useful and interesting is their collection of oil lamps. I had not seen an oil lamp with the wider end curved up. The other examples had tiny molded handles but not all pierced. One interesting bronze version is also present. Something I like is at least one had a comment on the method by which it was made.

These items ranged in date from the 1st century through the 5th as far as I took note in my quick viewing. Quite nice, definitely another museum to keep on a list of places to visit and online collections to check when thinking early period glass and lighting.

I didn’t have time to explore the online collection any further before posting– so if you spot something particularly nice in their online collection, do mention it in a comment.

Lighting in 10th Century Byzantium

Revisiting the Dumbarton Oaks Museum and the Byzantine & Christian Museum of Athens, today we shall take a look at methods of lighting which would be typical for the 10th century in Byzantium or Eastern Rome.

In the Dumbarton Oaks collection there is a 10th century glass hanging lamp. It would have needed a wick holder, which would likely have been of brass, to hold the wick, it would have been filled with olive oil, and was common enough that it shows up in an icon of St. Luke. The chain is attached by eye-bolts set into holes through the glass. The Dumbarton Oaks, lamp is the only one of its kind still intact. The book LIGHTING IN EARLY BYZANTIUM published by Dumbarton Oaks has excellent images.

Over in the collections of the Byzantine & Christian Museum there are several clay lamps which, from the sheer numbers that have been found, and the common motifs carried by so many, were likely used by nearly everyone, even if they also had the wealth to own lamps made of metals.  Of particular interest are the hanging fish lamps, and the smaller table lamp with fish decoration.

This metal version (image from Wikimedia Commons) with the Chi Rho would have been very common in clay and this shape was common with all sorts of Christian motifs; the chains indicate that it could be hung as well as set on a table:

Oil Lamp Christian Symbol.jpg
Oil Lamp Christian Symbol“. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 fr via Wikimedia Commons.