Roman frieze

“The Bogue Collection of Ancient Lamps at Portland State University”
Ann Nicgorski (Willamette University, Salem)

From March 11 through May 17, 2009, a large selection from a rarely seen collection of ancient lamps will be featured in an exhibition at the Hallie Ford Museum of Art at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon. This exhibit, co-curated by Drs. Lisa R. Brody and Ann M. Nicgorski, is entitled “From Hestia’s Sacred Fire to Christ’s Eternal Light: Ancient and Medieval Oil Lamps from the Bogue Collection, Middle East Studies Center, Portland State University.” This collection was donated to the university in 1962 by Mr. Robert Bogue, who acquired around 200 lamps while working in Egypt for the World Health Organization. The lamps in this collection range in date from approximately 3000 BCE through the Medieval/Arab periods and represent several diverse ancient cultures (including Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Early Christian, Jewish, Byzantine, and Islamic). The lamps also represent a wide variety of materials, including bronze and stone, although most are mold-made from terra cotta. All are well preserved and many are adorned with fascinating decorations (e.g., Eros and Aphrodite, Daniel, frogs and fishes, crosses and a menorah) as well as potter’s marks. The lamps of the Bogue Collection, while unfortunately lacking a secure archaeological context, can still provide much insight into the lives, religious beliefs, technologies, and trade routes that link the many diverse cultures of the ancient Mediterranean across the expanse of space and time.

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