This set of vessels is dated to the Byzantine Period (4th – 7th Century A.D).
The Byzantine period was an important period in the history of the Land of Israel, when this land became the “Holy Land” (“Terra Sancta”), after the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great (272-337 A.D) made Christianity the official religion of the empire.
This was after hundreds of years in which Christian believers were persecuted throughout the empire, when their worship was permitted and the entire empire converted to Christianity, a process that begun in the 4th Century A.D.
One of the most significant features of the Byzantine period was the incarnation of the Christian religion throughout the Holy Land, among other things by the establishment of many churches in memory of important events in the life of the Jesus Christ. Moreover, the material Culture of the Byzantine period was also influenced by the historical-cultural changes that occurred: the pottery of the period is characterized by a simple design, which may be seen as evidence of the spirit of the period when the Christian faith became established in the Holy Land.
This set of clay vessels contains an oil lamp and a juglet which are dated to the 4th-7th centuries AD. The juglet shown in this set began to appear in the middle of the Byzantine period (probably in the 5th Century A.D) , and continued to be in use during the early Islamic period as well (the 7th Century A.D). the juglet is part of a unique ceramic group called “FBW” (“fine Byzantine Ware”) that was common mainly during the 6th Century A.D.
This group of vessel shares some common features, such as the pinkish color and the linear decoration on the clay. It is accepted that the “FBW” vessels were made in Jerusalem and its surroundings, and indeed many of these vessels were found in the city and in sites in its vicinity, among them is Ein Gedi.
The clay oil lamp shown in the set is of a unique type because it is very similar to the bronze lamps of the Byzantine period. The lamp, with a large handle in the shape of a cross, is in fact an ancient imitation of bronze oil lamps that were expensive and therefore were imitated. In addition, similar to the simpler clay lamps of the Byzantine period, this lamp also has a palm decorated on its nozzle.
In principle, it can be said that the Byzantine oil lamps were steeped in Christian-religious symbolism, and this lamp is a clear example of the phenomenon, in that it combines the symbol of the cross and the palm tree.
These two ancient vessels are a fine example of the daily use vessels of the people of Jerusalem and the Holy Land during the Byzantine Period, when the Christian faith took root in the land.