Just days ago, it was reported that a 2,000-year-old bronze oil lamp in the shape of a grotesque face cut in half was discovered in the City of David. It was believed that the half a lamp was placed in the foundation of a Roman-era building on Pilgrimage Road as part of a ritual burial offering for good luck. Since the oil lamp was in the shape of half a face, it made it quite unique.
And now, it has been reported that the other half of the face may have been found in Budapest, Hungary. After the Israel Antiquities Authority made the announcement last week about the oil lamp, a Hungarian archaeologist named Dr. Gabor Lassanyi contacted them and stated that he may have the matching half that was uncovered back in 2012.
Dr. Lassanyi contacted Ari Levy (he is the head of the Jerusalem excavation) and said in part, “In an excavation we conducted at Aquincum (modern-day Budapest), we found a remarkably rare object: at the bottom of the building, we discovered a bronze half-lamp depicting the right half of a face shaped like a Roman theater mask.”
He went on to say, “Only a few known creations that resemble this exist from this time period, and they sit in museums and throughout private collections in the world, yet none of them are like these two halves. It is very difficult to craft in such an accurate way, and therefore, it is likely that the two halves of the lamps were created in the same artisan house and may even have served as a pair to one complete piece.”
Needless to say, Levy was extremely happy and surprised to have received Lassanyi’s information. “From the start, it was clear to us that this lamp was made abroad in one of the European countries, but I could not imagine that I would receive such an incredible message. The presence of a similar counterpart in Hungary, an area that was under the control of the Roman Empire at the time, allows us to look at the issue in a much deeper and broader way than we expected,” he said.
Since the lamp that was discovered in Jerusalem was the left side of the face and the one found in Budapest was the right side, it’s very possible that they did come from the same face that was cut in half. Based on their analysis of both halves, Lassanyi and Levy believe that they have the same dimensions. Furthermore, the lamp in Budapest contains a depressed connecting slot that could fit in perfectly with the protruding ridge on the one found in Jerusalem.
Archaeologists in Israel are now working on ideas on how they can know for sure whether or not these two halves did come from the same piece. Their ideas include printing a 3D model of the oil lamp found in Israel and sending it to Hungary for their experts to confirm whether or not their half of the lamp is a perfect match.
Pictures of both halves of the lamp can be seen here.