The history of metal lamps from Egan Bronze classical oil lamps cast in bronze with patina


Metal lamp imageMost of the lamps from these periods were made in various forms from clay since metal lamps were expensive, luxury items. The few ancient metal lamps that have survived are useful to artists and metallurgists in that they show not only the remarkable metallurgic skills these people possessed but the classic artistry of form following function.

Due to the cost to execute any metal object, most refinement of metal castings or shaping was confined to military purposes. Lamps in metal were found in the houses of the wealthy and in the temples. However, many of them in times of strife found their way back as accoutrements of war.



Metal lamp imageThe individual artistic expression can be found in that there is no clear line of development. Many base design styles were borrowed from clay lamps and embellished in extravagant styles. Metal lamps are almost impossible to date with any accuracy, even when found in controlled archeological excavations. Since they were unbreakable, they remained in use long after their particular style had passed out of fashion.


Photos courtesy: Cleveland Museum

Frank Egan 1999 - 2017