Meditarch Supplement 8 (2013): Ancient Lamps in New Zealand
by Dimitri Anson and Robert Hannah
Over 500 ancient lamps, ranging in date from the late second millennium BC to the early second millennium AD, are kept in New Zealand's public collections. They have been acquired by various means, but most of them have been donated since the latter part of the nineteenth century by businessmen, travellers, and members of the armed forces who have served in the Mediterranean either during First or Second World War.
It is hardly surprising then that their proveniences are most varied, ranging from Cyprus, Palestine, Egypt and Libya to Greece and Italy, from Turkey and Syria to Iraq and Iran. They represent a wide range of Near Eastern, Greek, Roman, and Byzantine types and are here catalogued in full for the first time, illustrated on 135 plates and accompanied by detailed description and analysis by two internationally renowned archaeologists.
The first part of the volume comprises the 313 lamps in the Otago Museum. Among the numerous pieces belonging to Roman times, a multi-nozzle bronze lamp dating to the middle of the first century AD is of particularly high quality. In the second part of the volume, the lamps held in the other New Zealand museums (Auckland War Memorial Museum, Whanganui Regional Museum, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Canterbury Museum) are presented in the same order: the Greek and Roman types are followed by plastic lamps, both Greek and Roman, then by the lamps from Egypt, before we turn to Byzantine and Early Islamic types. The catalogue closes with a handful of rather amusing forgeries.
This publication will be welcomed by everyone interested in ancient lamps, but thanks to the great variety of types and decorative motifs represented by the 500 New Zealand lamps, the catalogue is a truly enlightening volume for anyone studying the ancient Mediterranean.