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3000 B.C.
This simple small dish with little nubb handle is believed to be one of the earliest forms of oil lamps. Dating to perhaps 3000 B.C.
Oil lamps were the means of lighting homes in ancient times. And, like any commodity they changed over a period time. The changes in the design of oil lamps was very gradual taken thousands of years in the process.
The earliest forms were, as here, a simple dish in which oil was put with a wick placed near the edge. In time, the dish was pinched and the wick placed in the pinched point. Later on, a small handle was attached to the opposite end of the dish for ease of carrying. Still later, the top of the lamp was completely closed over with the exception of a small hole in the center to pour in the olive oil, and another at the end of what had now become a spout. Still later the lamps were decorated on top and sides and even the handle with various designs. Then two lamps were later made of bronze with multiple places for wicks for brighter illumination. Chains were also employed.

2001-2002 Museum of Biblical World