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Oil lamp


Oil lamp

Second quarter of the 1st century AD

Oil lamp, Dressel 20 shape, with two ears to hang, but also with a handle. Part of it retains the green glazed varnish, which in some parts becomes iridescent white. It was found in the excavations of the fifties in the Clos de la Torre area.

Three eastern divinities are represented: the goddess Isis in the center, facing, holding the sistrum with one hand and with the other a Canopic vessel containing the water of the Nile. She wears a xiton (Greek tunic) and a himation (shawl). Although this is not the case in this case, we often find the Isiac knot tied under the chest, which had magical powers. Anubis has a human body and the head of a jackal, and he looks at Isis. In one hand he carries a laurel or palm branch and, although it is not appreciated, in the other he would carry the ankh, an ansada cross or cross of life. Harpocrates is represented naked and with his index finger in front of his mouth making the gesture of silence and in the other hand he carries a cornucopia, a symbol of abundance.

The lamp oil feed hole is between Isis and Harpocrates.

Isis is the magician goddess. Her powers are so great that she can give a second life to her husband Osiris. She is also a caring and loving mother: she raises her son away from her terrible Uncle Seth and saves him from the dangers that threaten her. For all this, she also becomes the protective goddess of women and children. Her worship spread throughout the Mediterranean and withstood the rise of Christianity until the sixth century AD, when her worship was banned by Justinian in 535.

Harpocrates is the name that the Greeks gave to the son of Isis (Horus). He is the only son of Isis and Osiris. He spends his entire childhood in the Nile marshes, where his mother hided him. When he grows older he confronts his uncle to protect the throne of Egypt. He is represented as a naked child with the finger of his right hand in front of his mouth, making the sign of silence. The Greeks adopted him as the god of silence, but he also symbolizes the dawn or winter sun and constant renewal.

Anubis is the illegitimate son of Osiris and Nephthys, the sister of Isis. He is represented with the head of a jackal, and it is he who makes the first mummy of all: that of Osiris. Thanks to this ritual, the body of his father has been able to be reborn. Since then, Anubis is the god of embalming. He also has an important role in the afterlife, as he is the one in charge of leading deceased humans to Osiris.

From the first century AD, Eastern religions gain strength in the Western Roman Empire, especially among the lower classes of Roman society. Eastern ceremonies and rituals were more mysterious and close to the people, and contrasted strongly with the coldness and distance of Roman gods and rituals. That is probably why in Baetulo they have found several lamps with this theme.


Material: Ceramic Molded by Mold Dimensions: 11 (llargada) x 3,6 cm (alçada) Ref.: MB inv. 3368

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