Bringing the Past Alive...

Artefacts from the Historic Connections Collection

These items NOT for sale.

I am adding items here from my collection, artefacts that I have collected since I began Historic Connections in 2003. I am displaying them here with as much information a possible, specifically for your education. I don't believe any artefacts from the ancient world should be hidden away in private collections or in fact in museum basements, but should be available for the world to see and learn from our ancient past. Most items are original ancient artefacts and I have sought as much as is possible to only gather them from reputable sources that have a find history. Most are from retired archaeologist collections or deceased estates. If any item has any suspicion as coming from a looted source I will not touch it. If you have any questions about any item feel free to email me.

I do from time to time present public presentations so if you have a group or school event where you would like to have a display including hands on activities then please contact me for details.

Iron Age Oil Lamp 1200-560BC Judea

This is an original Iron Age Oil Lamp from Judea originally from the JR Stewart Collection. James Stewart (1913-62) was an Australian Archaeologist and History teacher at the University of Sydney, who was also curator of the Nicholson Museum. 

This is a classic Iron age design but an unusually small lamp from that period. It is 85mm wide, 95mm diameter at spout and 30mm on a small 28mm diameter base. It has a chip off the left shoulder.

There are burn marks inside the wick rest indicating the lamp has been used. 

Roman Oil lamp 1st Century AD

This was one of the first oil lamps in m=y collection. It is classed as a "type 4 Picture lamp" commonly found in Londinium 43-80AD.

It has a concave discus top to aid filling with oil and has a myrtle wreath surrounding the filling hole which is slightly off centre. 

The lamp is 72 x 100mm x 25mm tall. It has been repaired at some time in the past and has a deep brown/black glaze over a buff clay body.

Some of the glaze is missing.

Neolithic Pottery Sherds - UK - c4000BC

Archaeologists love pottery for a number of reasons. Pottery has longevity, in other words it almost lasts forever, while many other items deteriorate while buried. Pottery can be used to date a context. It can tell us by its type what the people were like who owned that pottery, it can tell us about lifestyle and trade and about manufacturing.

This Neolithic pottery sherds were found early last century by an archaeologist in the UK. Neolithic pottery in Britain in the early period was very coarse as it served menial tasks. At this stage the potters wheel had not yet been invented, nor was the kiln. Note the archaeologist excavation recording numbers. 

The pottery sherds show many inclusions or what potters call grog. It could be sand, straw or in this case burnt shale which would allow moisture to dissipate during firing. The pots of this early period were round bottomed fired at temperatures of 600 to 800 degrees centigrade in open pit fires making the pots serviceable but yet fragile. These pots were largely undecorated.

Roman Amphora Handle (Restored) 

This is a pulled handle from a Roman Amphora that was excavated on an excavated in 1977 in Austria and was found in three parts. It was restored.

It would have been part of a medium sized storage vessel and is still has a section of the amphora body attached. The excavators markings are 

on both ends of the handle. The handle is 110mm long at the body attachments, 45mm wide and 12mm thick.

Pompeii Oil Lamp

This is a single wick oil lamp of a style common in Pompeii. This lamp came from a man called Collins Shaw who was a member of the "Rushlight Club"  a group formed in 1932 in the US for people who collected and studied historic 

lighting devices. It is the oldest organisation dedicated to the study of a single aspect of material culture. He travelled the world doing lectures on ancient oil lamps but passed away in 2007. He has lamps from all over the world some of which are in my collection. This lamp is identical to a lamp in the Naples museum from Pompeii and it has small piece of encrusted grey substance stuck all over the lamp suggestive of volcanic encrustations. 

His paperwork had disappeared at the time I found the lamp so no conclusive result was determined. The lamp shows signs of heavy use with scorch marks o the neck. The lamp has a makers stamp on the base of "MUEREVE" and a shield impression. It has a laurel wreath on the discus surrounding the filler hole. It has a pierced handle. Lamps such as these were usually hung by the handle on the walls during the day to prevent mice from eating the remaining oil.It is 72 x 110mm intimater x 25mm tall at the body and 42mm high at the handle.

Chlorite Bowl Southern Mesopotamia c2500BC

This is a vertical sided bowl carved from a single piece of chlorite with body colours of mid brown but with many white inclusions.

An identical designed chlorite bowl was found in the death pits of Ur by Sir Leonard Woolley and this vessel is from the same region and period.

It is 105mm in diameter 75mm tall with walls 4mm thick. Bowls of this shape were often made in graduating sizes and could be stacked on inside each other

not unlike plastic bowls of today. 4500 year old ancient Tupperware. 

This comes from Helios Gallery in London which is owned by members of the British Archaeological society. It came from Yemen in the 1950/60s. 

Terracotta Bowl from The Indus Valley

This is a polychrome terracotta bowl from central Baluchistan shaped not unlike the chlorite bowl from southern Mesopotamia.

It has over a half its sides missing but enough is present to get an idea of how it looked. It is tentatively dated c3100 - 2800BC.

Its is painted with intertwined diamond lozenges. It is 70mm diameter 50mm tall with very thing walls. 

The Indus Valley was a thriving civilisation that rivalled Mesopotamia in the third millennia BC. Trading seals were found from here in various centres 

across Mesopotamia.

Middle Bronze Age Oil Lamp - Israel (2000 - 1570BC)

This is another oil lamp from the Shaw/Rushlight Club  collection. It is a Middle Bronze Age lamp formed with a simple picked wick rest from a wheel turned bowl.

It has a lot of inclusions in the clay body and what appears to be salt residue. Note the carbon deposits around the wick rest. The base of the lamp is rounded without a flat

discus like many other open lamps. Earlier versions of this lamp had an even simpler "picked" wick rest that was very subtle. 100 x 110 x 42mm high.

Oil Lamp filler dipper juglet. 1000BC Bethlehem.

This is a tiny juglet with a large rounded handle that was used to draw olive oil from a lather container to fill oil lamps.

It would have hung by a wooden stick through its handle on the rim of the large vessel. This juglet is 75mm tall but 35mm diameter 

across the body. It comes in a black clay body with large amounts of white inclusions. It was excavated in the Bethlehem region and comes 

from a dealer is the Old City of Jerusalem

Other versions of this juggle sat on a recess on the rim of the larger oil container. 

See image here that I took at the Museum of Ancient Cultures at Macquarie University.

Herodian Oil Lamp and Oil Flask (50BC - 50AD).

A wheel turned oil lamp from the Jerusalem area from around the turn of the era or time of Christ. 

It has a body that is undecorated, turned on a potters wheel and a knife paired wick spout, a classic style to the lamps of the period.

It is in a terracotta clay with some fine cracks. 60 x 82 x 255mm tall.

The flask is similar to an unguentarium that was used to carry perfumes or medications. Its neck has been broken off probably

to open the vessel for use. It could have contained a single dose of oil for the lamp or a perfume. 35mm diameter 85mm tall

in a buff clay. 

Herodian Oil Lamp with multiple nozzles.

This lamp is a reproduction of a multipack lamp from Israel c50BC - 50AD. It is of the classic "Herodian" wheel formed lamp common in the Jerusalem are of the period

but in this case with numerous wick nozzles. A single wick lamp would emit a similar light to that of a standard candle. To light a larger are there was simply two options:

Light multiple lamps of as in this case a single multipack lamp which would create more light in a localised space. Naturally a lamp with this many wicks would burn considerably

more oil.

There were several variations on this design as you will see below.

Multi wick Lamps from ancient Israel

These four lamps are variations of the multipack lamps found in Israel. Top left is called a "Tower Lamp" and is of the "Herodian" design due to the design of the 

body of the lamp and especially the wick nozzles. The original lamp was found in the Jerusalem area and features what appears to be a central tower with a row

of triangular windows below which is a ring of square windows. A similar lamp that was smaller has a central round tower with four nozzles. 

Bottom row is a pair of lamps found at the Herodium late 1st - 2nd century AD. These two lamps were ring shaped not unlike a hollow doughnut with multiple wick

nozzles, a filler rim and a handle. 

Iron Age II Oil Lamp 850BC - Israel

This is a large "pinched wick" oil lamp from Israel c850BC. It is of the classic style of the period with an almost flat base without a discus. 

It is 150 x 150 x 50mm high. It is in a buff coloured clay with some burn markings around the wick rest. 

It comes from an antiquities dealer from the Old City of Jerusalem dated 1975. 

Large Byzantine period "candlestick" lamp from Israel

This is a large lamp in what is commonly called a "candlestick" lamp. It has a seven wick crudely shaped image of a menorah on the top between the filler hole and the wick.

The shoulder of the lamp has line striations as decoration on what is essentially a pear shaped lamp. It has a round ring shaped bade. 68 x 100 x 32mm tall.

There are many variations to this lamp style, some with an image of a cross, some with a tree, and some with text where the menorah is on this one. 

Hellenistic Period Oil Lamps (2) from Israel 332 - 63BC

Those two lamps of classic Hellenistic styling are from Israel. These lamps classically are made in a mould and have an elongated neck, longer in the black lamp.

They have a small protrusion on the side of the round body that was a support where the thumb rested when the lamp was carried. The black lamp has the

more ornate protrusion. It also has starburst like lines radiating from the filer hole while the red lamp has angular lines. Both were glazed most of which is still

present and it was meant to help contain the oil within the lamp. Unglazed lamps eventually has oil seepage through the clay and had to be replaced frequently. 

Black 50 x 82 x 20mm

Red 50 x 75 x 20mm

Terracotta Jug & Bowl - Selifke (Antioch) Turkey 1st-3rd Century AD

This is a reddish terracotta jug with the handle broken off from the area around Antioch on the south coast region of present day Turkey.

This is the area that the Apostle Paul came from. It would have held water, oil or wine and would have been used at the table during

meals.It is 150mm tall. 

The bowl is from the same excavation but is a much redder clay with a high lip on its edge and a tiny 23mm ring foot base. The bowl is quite small but deep. 

130mm diameter 40mm high. 

Roman Pottery Case Study

In the early 1990s an archaeological survey was done on farmland in the UK. Initially a surface survey is done by an archaeologist with a metal detector as well as a visual survey looking for surface finds. During this stage a large pit filled with pottery was found with a mortarium fragment protruding above the ploughed surface that had been drawn to the surface due to the ploughing. The fragment was a spout of a mortarium used to grind herbs in a Roman household.

On examination the pit contained an almost solid mass of broken pottery to a depth of 1.5metres. The oldest sherds were at the bottom and the latest at the top. The pit was filled with broken pottery with no soil between the pieces. There appeared to be even more pottery in the immediate area. The pit was back filled immediately as the farmer needed to plant crops the next day. All the pottery was sent to the local museum and examined along with the regional supervising archaeologist. 

The pottery was all recorded and some of it was restored. 2 large vessels were restored along with the fragments in the photo here.

The pottery is shell grit Dalesware, an open fabric shell tempered ware in which you can see the shell grit. Other sherds were Roman Greyware, a grey sandy ware. Both pottery types and their vessels were domestic use pots used to wash oysters. The pots had a hole in the side at bottom (you can see part of this hole in the enlarged image). These pots were hand formed. Oysters were found on most Roman sites and were so common that even a poor farmer ate them. The pots would be filled with oysters and water repeatedly poured over them to run out the bottom hole flushing away the grit.

The pot is Gillam 157 type. Typical of the Roman period 3rd - 4th century AD. 

An aerial photo taken of the farm shows shadowing that could indicate a Roman Villa nearby. 

This find indicated that the site was occupied over a long period of time, was a high status site and the pit was a dumping area far enough away from the main building to dump rubbish, in this case the broken pottery. Samianware was also found in the pit but in much lower quantities as it was high value tableware. 

Fine ware Pottery Bases from Petra - Jordan - Nabataean

This is part of a group of pottery bought back from Petra by an archaeologist friend. All these pieces are bases of small fine ware bowls and cups.

Nabatean pottery was known for its fine yet strong substance. Later period pottery became even thinner and was known as egg shell pottery.

They made plates and large open drinking cups as well as large food platters. Many had decorated floral designs painted on the top surface.

Most were red in colour due to the local clays and many had incised decorations pressed in with stamps or roulettes such as the base at top right of the image. 

Some people compare the pottery to Roman Samianware. All this pottery was for everyday daily use.

Trade continued at Petra until after 200AD it shorted to Palmyra.

Roman Mortarium Fragment Oxfordshire 1st - 3rd Century AD.

A large rim fragment of a Roman mortarium, a bowl shaped vessel with exposed shell grit internally for bringing herbs and spices. 

A large round stone was used as a pestle that was rotated to bring down the food. The resulting mash was then poured from a 

spout at the rim edge. This fragment is 280mm in diameter and represents a finished bowl 280 x 100mm deep. 

The outer under surface is deeply ridged along with a very pronounced rim to create a stable holding point.

Roman Oil Lamp from Malta (1st century AD)

This is a tiny open oil lamp from the Island of Malta. It is 40 x 60mm x 18mm deep. I believe it is a votive oil lamp due to its size as it wold only hold enough oil for less than 1 hour of light. It is very similar in design to an oil lamp in the Nicholson Museum at the University of Sydney that is classified as Mesopotamian. This lamp came from an officer who served in the RAF in WWII and was an amateur archeologist who assisted on excavations in Malta after the war.