The light of the oil lamp represents one of the most ancient inventions of man, as archaeologists have estimated its date of origin to be in the Meso-Paleolithic period.




                           ANCIENT OIL LAMPS HISTORY 

                  © By Noufris Papatzanakis









       "Pallas Athena marched ahead bearing a golden oil lamp which made a most beauteous light”

Homer The Odyssey XIX 35

Stone oil lamp found in the Lackeau cave in France. It used animal fat as fuel and was used to provide light in cave dwellings 15000 years BC


   The oil lamp is one of the oldest inventions of mankind, evidence dating between 15,000 to 12,000 years before Christ.  At this time civilization, as we identify it, was unknown and prehistoric man inhabited cave-like environments. One characteristic prehistoric lamp was found in the cave of Lasceau, located in the area of Dordonis in France. Discovered in 1940, this cave was inhabited between 15,000 and 10,000 BC.  Some archaeologists believe that the first oil lamps appeared as early as 70,000 years before Christ. Most of these oil lamps were made of stone and burned animal fat. Oil lamps dating to around 4000 BC have been found in Egypt where they were used for centuries, not only for the illumination of the home, but also in religious ritual, which was an integral part of daily life at the time.

Oil lamp from Egypt 3000 years BC

 In historical times one such ceremony, called Liknokaia (the burning lamp), was held in honor of the goddess Naiff, according to the historian Herodotus. During this celebration the ancient Egyptians lit thousands of oil lamps around the country and in their homes. One well-known Egyptian oil lamp was the luxurious lamp of Isis, which was used to illuminate the statues of the gods. Records reveal that in ancient Greece a famous large oil lamp called Callimachos, “the golden lamp”, was kept in the Acropolis in Athens and burned daily with only one refill of oil per year.

Oil lamp from Greece 600-500 years BC

Just as the Egyptians, the ancient Greeks also used oil lamps in death ritual and other religious ceremonies.     For centuries the oil lamp has served Man in the practical needs of daily life, remaining a constant reminder of his connection to the sacred.     The production of oil lamps by pottery wheel began about 600 BC. , followed by mould production dating from 400-300 BC. The moulding process resulted in the improvement of the quality and decoration of the lamps. Throughout history the form and function of oil lamps has steadily progressed.

 Roman lamp   200 –300 years AD


The Romans brought the oil lamp to Europe, preserving their importance in ceremony on the precedent of the ancient Egyptians and Greeks.

Byzantine oil lamps   600-700 years AD


In Late Antiquity and through the Byzantine Period, oil lamps found symbolic use in the Christian religion. The ancient pagan decorative images on lamps were replaced by the symbol of the cross. For most of the people around the world, the oil lamp has historically played an important role in society. One need only recall the charming Arabic tale of Aladdin, whose ‘magic’ lamp gained fame around the world.   As a historical artefact, the oil lamp has persisted from ancient times to our own, making it a valuable indicator of the progress of civilization. 




             The oil lamps from Epalladio Art Workshop are artistic replicas, handmade with respect for these thousands of years of tradition. Our lamps are made of stoneware clay, and are guaranteed for durability and functionality. Our designs are characteristic of those from museums around the world.  (We have given most of our oil lamps the names of ancient manufacturers). A lit oil lamp promises to provide a healthy and exotic atmosphere in any home.             

  Oil lamp by Epalladio  art workshop

           Experience the unique light of a lit oil lamp                               








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