Thursday, June 6, 2019

Ancient Artifact

The object below from the Benton County Historical Museum collection looks a bit like a shoe.
It isn’t!  It is an oil lamp that donor Louis Raymond acquired near Nippur Iraq.  He estimated it was from the second or third centuries B. C.

Oil lamps have been found from as early as 70,000 years B.C.  Original, people filled rocks or shells with a shallow depression with moss soaked in oil.  The burning material provided some light. 

Over time, rims were added to keep in the oil; a pinch in the rim held a wick in place allowing for a longer burn.  In the shoe-shaped oil lamp, the oil was poured in the large hole in the top.  The wick would have fit into the hole in the toe area. The protrusion in back allowed the lamp to be carried.

Louis Raymond also donated another oil lamp which he said was from Babylon around 500 B.C. 

This terra cotta lamp has a more conventional shape that the first one shown but functions the same way.

By Martha Fraundorf, Volunteer for Benton County Historical Society, Philomath, Oregon  

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