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.

Learning New Skills

Excitement! I am hoping to take a class at an Society for Creative Anachronism event this weekend on how to use embroidery to put carbochons on my clothing with thread. Very eager to learn this so I can decorate a fancy tunic with stones and pearls.

There are a whole lot of Inkle loom classes too. I hope to take at least one about card weaving and one about doing pick-up on my loom. Trouble is, I think I need more than one loom!

I won’t probably get to take them, but there will also be classes on creating the atmosphere with acting out your persona. Getting more people to “play” at events makes the fun greater for everybody. Historical accuracy for the garb between events, and creating a fantasy of the medieval period for playing at events. A place for all. I delight in historical details. Research is fun. I love reading about real life in the 10th Century.