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.

Another Favorite Museum: Byzantine & Christian Museum of Athens

I have a new FAVORITE museum: The Byzantine and Christian Museum of Athens Greece. Not reading Greek, I am limited to exploring images or sticking to the English language page. Still, for exploring the culture of my persona and characters, this is a thrill to find on-line.

I found this lovely museum page thanks to this image:
2141 - Byzantine Museum, Athens - Byzantine ceramic ware - Photo by Giovanni Dall'Orto, Nov 12 2009              By G.dallorto (Own work) [Attribution], via Wikimedia Commons

 

The pottery, in the pictures is listed as 9th-13th century. I could use this, and mug with the two small finger loops (seen in another image), as the basis for feast gear for an SCA: Society for Creative Anachronism event.

Lighting could be via a lamp like THIS. LOVELY! I like the two fish on a line.

Or THIS lamp. Note the loops for hanging the lamp and the fish coming out of the fish’s mouth to hold the wick.

HERE is a pretty gold buckle I would not mind using on a belt!

All in all a delightful museum!