The Byzantine period (4th-7th centuries AD) was a period of flourishing and wealth in the Holy Land. During this time Christianity became the dominant religion of the Roman Empire, and many churches were established throughout the country, preserving the memory of Christ. In fact, during this period the Land of Israel became the “Holy Land”, the center of the Christian faith, at the center of which is the Holy City – Jerusalem.
Most of the pottery vessels of the Byzantine period are characterized by simple wheel work, including the oil lamps. This oil lamp, which dates from the fifth-sixth centuries AD, is one of the simplest and most common clay lamps of the Byzantine period in the Land of Israel. It is decorated with a Menorah pattern on the nozzle (hence also known as a “Menorah lamp”), and with radial lines around the lamp eye.
No one lights a lamp and puts it in a cellar or under a basket. Instead, he sets it on a lamp stand, so those who enter can see the light.
It is possible to give meaning from the realm of Christian faith to the use of the Menorah decoration on the lamp, and at the very least it is clear that the motif of light was important in the Christian in the Byzantine period.
Through the use of this lamp, not only the actual physical light was disseminated, but also the spiritual light from the sharing of the Christian faith which became increasingly established in the Holy Land during the Byzantine period.
These lamps were found in large quantities in Jerusalem and its surroundings, which may indicate the centrality of the candles in this part of the country. It should be noted that during the Byzantine period an influx of pilgrims began to appear in the Holy Land, and it is possible that these lamps were quite popular with the pilgrims.
This clay oil lamp from the Byzantine period is an example of the typical lamp used daily by the Christian people of the Holy Land, who used it to illuminate their houses, but also to spread the light of the Christian faith, when used as a teaching tool according to Jesus’ parables.