Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg

Further settings

Login for editors

Early Christian oil-lamps

Bild aus CA-Sammlung Oellampen

Bild aus CA-Sammlung Oellampen

 Single early Christian oil-lamps (4-7th century) are among the few original pieces of art in Halle’s collection since most exhibits are casts. They come from the necropolis of Carthage and from a museum near the Cathedral of St Louis. Oil-lamps were very common and there are numerous copies of them. The lamps were used to light up homes and to highlight places of worship, and were very different in appearance. The terracota lamps brought to Halle are closed and have only a spout for the wick and two holes for the air supply. They are oval, tapered at the ends and show ornamental figures and motifs on the top side. Some of the motifs, such as the Latin cross, are easily recognised as Christian. With others, however, an interpretation is more difficult because the motifs are also seen in secular representations, such as the palm leaf, or they have many meanings in Christian representations, such as life, victory or martyr signs. A clear determination is not possible in every single case.