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 Peter asks.

4th September 2009


From Bob

6th Sept


 I like the top lamp... the bottom one (froggy) I wouldn't touch... much too "pretty."




From Bryan

6th Sept

I'm going to go the opposite. The top one I'd by-pass without much hesitation.
The frog lamp, however, looks good to me, though side and base views of both
would help. Incising after being taken from the mold is not unusual on frog



The lamp at the top is one of a well known type of fake made in Syria.

As for "frog lamps" I think I've only seen fairly high relief moulded examples like this one.

Though I must admit I've not come across many really.


I did find this though:


From Bryan

7th Sept

Frog lamps show a great range of variety, some get very stylized. If you have
access to QEDEM vol 8, there's an assortment of images showing assorted types.
Here's an image of one which I'm pretty confident about. Note the similar incising and lack of realism in the molding.



Aha, yes, indeed, you are quite right.

I'll scan in those pages from my copy of Qedem 8 and put it on that page.

Thanks very much.


A few images of Egyptian frog lamps. Of course by no means do all have a frog on them as such actually.



From David K

9th Sept

The top lamp on your page (roughly circular with three wick-holes): this item is, as you noted, a modern Syrian tourist fake. (FS9)

The second lamp on your page (frog lamp): I see no reason to doubt that this item is authentic, and was made in Roman Egypt during the 2nd to 4th centuries AD.
A similar lamp:

There is also another very similar example at the Boston MFA:
(in the Robert Hay Collection by 1836)

The Boston MFA image seems to be down occasionally but here is a copy of it I downloaded a few years ago:

The decoration on Egyptian frog lamps was typically created by a combination of moulding and incising: the basic shape of the frog (or whatever other decoration) would be formed in the mould and the details were then incised by a tool while the clay was still damp before the lamp was fired in the kiln.

But it varied considerably. On some lamps the shape formed in the mould was so fine that very little detailing needed to be added. On other lamps the moulded shape was so rudimentary (little more than a mere bump) that the decoration relied almost entirely on incisions quickly scratched into the clay by hand by the workman. Here is an example of the latter method:

The shape of the lamps themselves also varied. Some are almost globular, others are very nearly flat.

P.S. My favourite frog lamp is definitely the one at the very bottom right of your page!!! :oD


Thanks very much for that. 

Needless to say, THIS is a very good place to buy ancient lamps.

David's website of course.

More interesting things to ponder upon>>>