August 15, 2018
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genie-lampAn oil lamp is an object used to produce light continuously for a period of time using an oil-based fuel source. The use of oil lamps began thousands of years ago and is continued to this day. It is very difficult to say when and where the first oil lamp was used. This is partly because it is difficult to draw a line detailing when the primitive forms of creating a continuous source of light from fire can be termed a lamp. The first lamps were made of naturally occurring objects, coconuts, sea shells, egg shells and hollow stones. Some believe that the first proper lamps were carved from stones. Curved stone lamps were found in places dated to the 10th millennium BCE.[58] Some Archaeologists claim that the first shell-lamps were in existence more than 6,000 years ago.[59] They believe that the alabaster shell-shaped lamps dug up in Sumerian sites dating 2,600 BCE were imitations of real shell-lamps that were used for a long time.[60] Before the invention of the wheel in the Middle Bronze Age, lamps were made by hand. An early form of the potter’s wheel was invented and introduced in the Middle Bronze Age and used to manufacture lamps until around the 3rd century BCE. The use of molds was first developed in Greece and Egypt during the 3rd century BCE. In Roman times, stone, clay, or plaster molds were utilized on a large scale across the Roman Empire until around the 8th century CE. In the Religio Romana, which is the modern reconstruction of the religion of Ancient Rome, an oil lamp is placed on the lararium and lit before prayers are said. The lamp symbolizes Vesta, as well as the protective power she offers to a home. Lamps appear in the Torah[61] and other Jewish sources[62] as a symbol of “lighting” the way for the righteous, the wise, and for love and other positive values. While fire was often described as being destructive, light was given a positive spiritual meaning. The oil lamp and its light were important household items, and this may explain their symbolism. Oil lamps were used for many spiritual rituals. The oil lamp and its light also became important ritualistic articles with the further development of Jewish culture and its religion. The Temple Menorah, a ritual seven branched oil lamp used in the Second Temple, forms the centre of the Chanukah story and centers on the miracle that during the cleansing of the Jewish temple in Jerusalem after its looting, the lamp was supposed to burn continuously, forever, but there was only oil enough for one day, and no more oil would be available for 8 days; miraculously the oil expected to last for only one day instead burnt for 8 full days. There are several references to oil lamps in the New Testament:“Your eye is the lamp of your body; when your eye is sound, your whole body is sound, your whole body is full of light; but when it is not sound, your body is full of darkness.”[63] “He was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light.”[64] “And night shall be no more; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they shall reign for ever and ever.”[65] In the Orthodox Church and many Eastern Catholic Churches oil lamps (Greek: kandili, Slavonic: lampada) are still used both on the Holy Table (altar) and to illuminate icons on the iconostasis and around the temple (church building). Orthodox Christians will also use oil lamps in their homes to illuminate their icon corner. Traditionally, the sanctuary lamp in an Orthodox church is an oil lamp. It is lit by the bishop when the church is consecrated, and ideally it should burn perpetually thereafter. The oil burned in all of these lamps is traditionally olive oil. Oil lamps are commonly used in Hindu temples as well as in home shrines. Generally the lamps used in temples are circular with places for five wicks. They are made of metal and either suspended on a chain or screwed onto a pedestal. There will usually be at least one lamp in each shrine, and the main shrine may contain several. Usually only one wick is lit, with all five burning only on festive occasions. The oil lamp is used in the Hindu ritual of Aarti. In the home shrine, the style of lamp is usually different, containing only one wick. There is usually a piece of metal that forms the back of the lamp, which has a picture of a Hindu deity embossed on it. In many houses, the lamp burns all day, but in other homes, it is lit at sundown. The lamp in the home shrine is supposed to be lit before any other lights are turned on at night. A hand-held oil lamp or incense sticks (lit from the lamp) are also used during the Hindu puja ceremony. In the North of India, a five-wick lamp is used, usually fueled with ghee. On special occasions, various other lamps may be used for puja, the most elaborate having several tiers of wicks. Oil lamps are lit at traditional Chinese shrines before either an image of a deity or a plaque with Classical Chinese characters giving the name of the deity. Such lamps are usually made from clear glass (they look similar to normal drinking glasses) and are filled with oil, sometimes with water underneath. A cork or plastic floater containing a wick is placed on top of the oil with the bottom of the wick submerged in the oil.Such lamps are kept burning in shrines, whether private or public, and incense sticks or joss sticks are lit from the lamp.

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[58] Mesolithic, Middle Stone Age Period, circa 10,300 – 8000 BCE.
[59] Neolithic, Later Stone Age, C. 8500 – 4500 BCE.
[60] Early Bronze, Canaanite / Bronze I-IV, c.3300 – 2000 BCE.
[61]“And you shall command the people of Israel that they bring to you pure beaten olive-oil for the light, that a lamp may be set to burn continually”. Exodus 27:20; “For a commandment is a lamp and the Torah is light; and reproving discipline is the way of life.” (Proverbs 6:23); “There I shall cause pride to sprout for David; I have prepared a lamp for my anointed.” (Psalms 132:16); “When you set the lamps, the seven lamps shall give light in front of the lamp stand (menorah).” Numbers 8: 1 -4; “A man’s soul is the lamp of God, which searches the chambers of one’s innards.” (Proverbs 20:27).
[62]“A lamp is called a lamp, and the soul of man is called a lamp.” (Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 30B)
[63] The Bible, Luke 11:34.
[64] The Bible, John 5:35.
[65] The Bible, Rev 22:5.

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