A Stone Oil Lamp with Seven Nozzles Carved with Jewish Symbols from the Late Second Temple Period.

A circular oil lamp 22 cm in diameter with seven nozzles was archaeometrically studied to verify its authenticity. Traditional Jewish decorations are carved in the upper part of the lamp: a seven-branched Menorah (candelabrum), wheat ear, a basket with figs, pomegranates, date palm tree, grape leaf and grapes, olive branches and barley ear. Most of the symbols are similar to those found on Jewish coins of the period. It is made of silica-enriched chalk of the Early Senonian sequence exposed in the Jerusalem area. This oil lamp is the product of the Jewish limestone industry that flourished during the late Second Temple period in Jerusalem (first century CE), related to religious purity laws. The prevalence of malleable silicified chalk in the Jerusalem environs and sophisticated processing techniques such as use of a lathe facilitated the production of this stone oil lamp. The distribution of the chemical elements of the patina is identical to those elements found in the stone. Soot was found embedded within the multi-layered patina which is attached firmly to the lamp’s outer and inner surface. Microcolonial fungi structures and minerals are indicative of natural long-term development in a subsurface burial setting. All of these factors reinforce its authenticity.

By Amnon Rosenfeld
Emeritus, Geological Survey of Israel
Jerusalem, Israel

Shimon Ilani
Geological Survey of Israel,
Jerusalem, Israel

W.E.K. Krumbein
Department of Geomicrobiology, ICBM,
Carl von Ossietzky Universitaet, Oldenburg,

H. R. Feldman
The Anna Ruth and Mark Hasten School,
Touro College, Division of Paleontology, N.Y.
American Museum of Natural History,
New York

Steve Daren
Daren Laboratories and Scientific Consultants,
Nes Ziona, Israel
July 2011

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Comments (4)

Note, none of the five authors are archaeologists and I suspect most have no experience at all in the world of biblical archaeology. Furthermore, is this not the ossuary that Nina Burleigh talks about in her book Holy Relics, i.e. the oil lamp that belonged to Oded Golan the owner of the James Ossuary, which (oil lamp)was sold to Weil and a group of investors hoping to make a fast buck off it only to be told that it was most probably forged ? If so, I hope they got their money back, to pay lawyers.

#1 - Joe Zias - 07/12/2011 - 15:37

The educated anthropologist shows in his comment an extended knowledge in genealogy of artifacts. Interestingly enough, most of Zias's "scientific" critique of artifacts and opponents starts and ends up with money. It is difficult for us to discuss this comment without a substantial archaeological and/ or archaeometric argument. Rumors and personal attacks are not in our nature.
Amnon Rosenfeld

#2 - Amnon Rosenfeld - 07/13/2011 - 14:59

Seems the authors have a short memory, or are ignoring an essay on the subject of forgeries on www.bibleinterp.arizona.edu. R. Altmans essay published in 2004 is a tour force. (the woman can certainly write) Following is how it ends, on that 7 spouted oil lamp. Take note and don’t say you were unaware as several of you were involved in authenticating some of the items now on trial in her essay.
“We return to Moussaieff and a fake for which he paid $800,000 U.S. (the approximate cost of Golan's "tiny" apartment). We move back to one artifact, a really beautiful oil lamp shown at intervals for good reason -- a reason we learn when we finally see and hear Mr. George Weill, the duped collector talk about his purchase of the item. The scene flashes to Officer Pagis, who blandly announces that the owner paid cash, $100,000, without a receipt or supporting documentation. We return to the unveiling of the artifact where we watch the owner carefully unwrap the item after taking it from its specially made carrying case. And, along with the owner, we are shown where the patina is fake.
It is a fitting epithet on the entire business when Mr. Weill vehemently states: "I have collected for 40 years in many fields and I have never seen such monkeys and cowboys and swindlers and liars and money-hungry bums as I find in this field!"

Deal with it....

#3 - Joe Zias - 07/16/2011 - 17:57

Mr. Zias hits again; "none of the five authors are archaeologists and I suspect most have no experience at all in the world of biblical archaeology."
Dear Jo - a MA degree in medicine among Americans around Chicago was enough for a certain authority to hire such an expert as its bones expert, a job he had for many years, under the title "anthropologist". I also wonder: why do you insert Golan's name and the subject of "money" everywhere? Does it have anything to do with the James ossuary and its original location? It seems that the James ossuary and the people who exposed its location are your problem. I wonder why.

#4 - Eldad Keynan - 08/27/2011 - 13:59

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