Sandaled-foot lamp

Type: Lamps
Date: Fifth century
Location or Findspot (Modern-Day Country): Syria
Medium: Copper
Dimensions: 8.3 × 12 × 4.2 cm
Description: This copper-alloy lamp in the form of a sandaled foot was made in late antique Syria. The hole for filling the lamp with oil is in the ankle, and the big toe rests against the nozzle for the wick. The sole of the sandal is decorated with pellets that represent hobnails, arranged in the form of a swastika, an ancient symbol of prosperity. Three suspension chains meet in a single chain that terminates in both a spike and a hook, two ways it could be hung from a wall.

This type of lamp continued a Roman tradition (in clay and bronze) associated with the right foot of the Egyptian god Serapis, which was thought to be apotropaic and to bring good luck. Because this lamp is topped with an equal-armed cross over the filling hole, it was intended for use by Christians. It may have evoked Psalm 119:105, "Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path," a version of which is engraved on one late antique clay lamp. Sandaled-foot lamps were not produced after the sixth century.
Relevant Textbook Chapter(s): 2
Image Credits: Metropolitan Museum of Art

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Sandaled-foot lamp, front view (MMA 62.10.2) Sandaled-foot lamp, bottom (MMA 62.10.2)