Loaf-Sized Church Lantern Shines Brightly

By: The Scribe on Wednesday, May 1, 2013



Photograph by David Buimovitch, AFP/Getty ImagesIn a recent dig in Israel, archaeologists working on a large winepress from 500 A.D. made a surprising and delightful discovery. They found a church-shaped lamp that appears to be an actual model of a Byzantine-era church, about the size of a loaf of bread.

The find indicates that the owner of the winepress was likely a Christian, as the lantern has patterns on the roof and walls that would have shone flickering crosses of candlelight onto the walls of a darkened room. On one side of the lantern is an opening, just large enough for an oil lamp.

Finding a miniature church is rare, according to the librarian for Byzantine studies at Harvard University’s Dumbarton Oaks research center. However, it’s not unusual to find 2D renderings of churches in mosaics from the period.

(photo credit: Courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority)As for the winepress, the site worked on by archaeologists revealed six compartments for fermentation, along with a treading floor for a screw press, two collecting pits, and a setting vat. These were spread along over 84 square meters of space!

The location of the ancient winepress and the lantern discovery is near Hamai Yoav, along what used to be known as the ancient road to Ashkelon’s port, where wine was exported to places like North Africa and Europe.







 

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