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Byzantine Bronze Oil Lamp Filler or Cosmetic Mortar

Byzantine Bronze Oil Lamp Filler or Cosmetic Mortar

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The Byzantine Empire, c. 400-900AD.

Magnificent cast bronze oil lamp filler or cosmetic mortar with hemispherical body, deep rounded bowl with a flattened bottom, from which extends a long channelled spout, a flat lobed handle and smaller lateral lugs. Objects like this, with a small rounded bowl, flanged handles and a long channelled spout, have been speculated to be many different things, from oil lamps to baby feeders. It seems most likely, however, that the hemispherical body was used for as a mortar for crushing cosmetic materials, which would then have been poured down the spout into small flasks, or as a oil lamp filler, the terracotta lamp would be filled with oil through the pouring hole. The Byzantine Empire existed from 330 to 1453 AD. Often called the Eastern Roman Empire or simply Byzantium. The Byzantine capital was founded at Constantinople by Constantine I. The Byzantine Empire varied in size over the centuries, at one time or another, possessing territories located in Italy, Greece, the Balkans, Levant, Asia Minor, and North Africa.

Good condition. Wear consistent with age and use. Surface scratches and corrosion due oxidation. Beautiful patina, light earthen deposits. Size approx. 9,5cm x 5,0cm x 1,8cm.

Provenance: Private collection from Denmark

For a similar examples see:

Cosmetic Mortar or Lamp Filler, Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Byzantine Collection, Washington, D.C., Accession Number: BZ.1988.1 (

Cosmetic-mortar, The British Museum, Accession Number: 2007,6001.14209 (

Cosmetics Mortar, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Accession Number: 39.40.100 (

References and further reading:

Byzantine Empire, Mark Cartwright, World History Encyclopedia. Last modified September 19, 2018. (

Cosmetics Mortar, The Metropolitan Museum of Art. (

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