© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
Other Titles
Alternate Title: Candle Holder (B) and Base (A)
Lighting Devices
Work Type
lighting device
6th-7th century CE
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World, Asia, Eastern Mediterranean
Byzantine period, Early
Physical Descriptions
Leaded brass; Mixed copper alloy
Cast, lost-wax process
25 x 11.3 x 8.1 cm (9 13/16 x 4 7/16 x 3 3/16 in.)
Technical Details

Chemical Composition: Top
XRF data from Artax 1
Alloy: Leaded Brass
Alloying Elements: copper, lead, zinc
Other Elements: tin, iron, arsenic

XRF data from Artax 1
Alloy: Leaded Brass
Alloying Elements: copper, lead, zinc
Other Elements: tin, iron, nickel

XRF data from Artax 1
Alloy: Leaded Brass
Alloying Elements: copper, lead, zinc
Other Elements: tin, iron, arsenic

K. Eremin, January 2014

Chemical Composition: ICP-MS/AAA data from sample, Leaded Brass and Mixed Copper Alloy:
Point 1: Cu, 72.41; Sn, 1.6; Pb, 8.26; Zn, 16.91; Fe, 0.17; Ni, 0.05; Ag, 0.09; Sb, 0.07; As, 0.44; Bi, less than 0.025; Co, 0.008; Au, less than 0.01; Cd, less than 0.001

Point 2: Cu, 72.92; Sn, 2.05; Pb, 6.08; Zn, 18.18; Fe, 0.15; Ni, 0.06; Ag, 0.12; Sb, 0.08; As, 0.36; Bi, less than 0.025; Co, 0.006; Au, less than 0.01; Cd, less than 0.001

J. Riederer

Technical Observations: The patina is very dark, almost black, with a faint green cast. The stand is a pastiche in its present condition. It appears to have been cast in at least two sections. A third section (1.6 cm high) currently attached to the upper segment is also ancient, but its patina is different from the other two, and it was probably added in an early restoration. The surfaces were sawn and ground flat where they meet, and a modern threaded rod holds the parts together, including the lower base section. Lead solder is present in the hollow of the lower base section. This solder could be old or part of the restoration.

Drips and wax manipulation marks at the bottom of the base are related to melting and applying the wax to a mold to form the outer surfaces. The shallow incised lines in both the upper and lower sections are irregular but appear to have been turned at a slow speed, either in the wax model or in the brass cast. Circular burnish marks at the bottom side of the “dish” are concentric and are the result of finishing either the wax or brass surface by rotating it along its axis.

Henry Lie (submitted 2001)

Hagop Kevorkian collection (by 1941), gift; to the Fogg Museum, 1975.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of The Hagop Kevorkian Foundation in memory of Hagop Kevorkian
Accession Year
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art
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Label Text: Glory and Prosperity: Metalwork of the Islamic World , written 2002
Lamp and Stand (1)

Egypt or Syria, Byzantine, 6th-7th century


Gift of the Hagop Kevorkian

Foundation in memory of Hagop Kevorkian

1975.41.138, 1975.41.141.A-B

Lamps are an excellent example of pre-Islamic metalwork forms continuing into the Islamic period, with only gradual changes over the centuries to reflect the emerging Islamic taste. The form of the lamp stand (1) dates back to Roman times and was found throughout the Mediterranean region. It continued to be made in the Islamic era and was popular all over the Islamic world. The lamp and stand combination (2) was made five to six centuries later than (1), but the basic shape is the same. Elements of the new Islamic style can be seen in the more stylized shape of the feet, as opposed to

t he realistic animal paws of the earlier stand; the more pronounced indentations of the base; and the faceted baluster shapes of the shaft.
Likewise, the lamp portion of (1), which detaches from the stand, can be compared to (3), which was also made five to six centuries later. The later lamp comes from Khurasan and has a type of base not seen in earlier lamps. Its body and handle, though, are clearly descended from Roman and Byzantine prototypes. By this time, the Byzantine cross has been transformed into an Islamic split palmette.

The bird-shaped lamp (4) has a very Islamic appearance, with its openwork braids and symmetrical incised decoration, but this shape can also be traced back to Byzantine prototypes. This particular example, which, like (3) , comes from Khurasan, also shows that Islamic metalwork was influenced by traditions found farther east. The turquoise inlay of the eye (originally in both eyes) is an inheritance from Buddhist metalworking traditions in Kashmir, not far from the eastern boundary of the Islamic world. Kashmiri metalworkers produced large amounts of Buddhist figural sculpture with inlaid turquoise or turquoise-colored glass paste for the eyes.

Label Text: Beyond the Surface: Scientific Approaches to Islamic Metalwork , written 2011


Eastern Mediterranean, Byzantine period, 6th–7th century

Brass, incised

Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of the Hagop Kevorkian Foundation in memory of Hagop Kevorkian, 1975.41.141.A–C

Continuing a Roman tradition, this stand originally had a lamp secured to its spike. Radiography revealed that it consists of three separately cast pieces joined by modern screws. While analysis confirmed that all three pieces are made of brass, the small middle section is compositionally distinct, with more zinc. It may represent an early restoration.

Published Catalogue Text: Ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern Bronzes at the Harvard Art Museums
The brass lamp stand, made up of three pieces, has a saucer and pricket supported by a baluster-turned shaft and tripod base. The feet of the stand—in the shape of lions’ paws—are capped at the knee by the flared base of the shaft terminating in three downturned knobs. The rising shaft flares at its center. Three pairs of concentric circles are inscribed the shaft at its base, middle, and top. The middle piece (approximately 1.6 cm high) connects the tripod base to the saucer. It flares at the bottom and rises to a small disc. Unlike the upper and lower pieces, which have inscribed bands, the middle piece is decorated with a raised band. The third piece, the saucer and pricket, is joined to the middle piece by a screw. This section is inscribed with three pairs of concentric circles (at the base, under the lip of the saucer, and on the pricket) and a single, deeper circle on the upper edge of the lip of the saucer.

The tripod base and flared shaft are similar to other eastern Mediterranean examples from the fifth to seventh centuries CE (1). M. Ross attributes a similar stand in the Dumbarton Oaks collection to Syria, based on a group of stands sharing similar bases and swelled shafts (2). Chronological attribution of the group stems from inscriptions on stands from the Hama excavations (3).

This stand is made to support a lamp on its pricket. Stands varied in height from 30 cm to over a meter. The shortest were intended for tables or wall niches, and the tallest were placed on the floor. The difference in decoration, patina, and metal alloy of the middle piece compared to the other two parts of this stand suggests that the middle piece is a repair, thus precluding any estimation of the original height of the stand.


1. For similar examples of footed tripod bases with ring-inscribed stands, see M. C. Ross, Catalogue of the Byzantine and Early Mediaeval Antiquities in the Dumbarton Oaks Collection 1: Metalwork, Ceramics, Glass, Glyptics, Painting (Washington, DC, 1962) nos. 34 and 39, pls. 27-28; E. D. Maguire, H. P. Maguire, and M. J. Duncan-Flowers, Art and Holy Powers in the Early Christian House, exh. cat., Krannert Art Museum, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (Urbana, 1989) 71, no. 17; J. C. Waldbaum, Metalwork from Sardis: The Finds through 1974, Archaeological Exploration of Sardis Monograph 8 (Cambridge, MA, 1983) 104, no. 615, pl. 40; A. Gonosová and C. Kondoleon, Art of Late Rome and Byzantium in the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (Richmond, 1994) 258-59, no. 88; and M. Xanthopoulou, Les lampes en bronze à l’époque paléochrétienne, Bibliothèque de l’Antiquité tardive 16 (Turnhout, 2010) 242-52, nos. CD 6.001-6.022 and 6.024-6.043.

2. M. C. Ross, Catalogue of the Byzantine and Early Mediaeval Antiquities in the Dumbarton Oaks Collection 2: Jewelry, Enamels, and Art of the Migration Period (Washington, DC, 1965) 38.

3. Gonosova and Kondoleon 1994 (supra 1) 259.

Anne Druckenbrod Gossen

Publication History

"Pagan and Christian Egypt: Egyptian Art from the First to the Tenth Century A.D." (1941), Brooklyn Museum, p. 34, no. 89, ill.

Ioli Kalavrezou, Byzantine Women and Their World, exh. cat., Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 2003), p. 196, no. 110, fig. 110.

Maria Xanthopoulou, Les lampes en bronze à l’époque paléochrétienne, Brepols (Turnhout, 2010), p. 247, no. CD 6.023.

Exhibition History

Pagan and Christian Egypt: Egyptian Art from the First to the Tenth Century AD, Brooklyn Museum of Art, 01/23/1941 - 03/09/1941

Byzantine Women and Their World, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 10/25/2002 - 04/28/2003

Beyond the Surface: Scientific Approaches to Islamic Metalwork, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 10/21/2011 - 06/01/2013

Subjects and Contexts

Ancient Bronzes

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art at am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu