Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE ( © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 04 December 2020

Abstract and Keywords

In antiquity, natural and artificial light was manipulated to illuminate dark spaces. Its primary and most significant use, however, may have been amuletic. This chapter explores several unique and in some instances forgotten archaeological small finds that hint at the use of symbolic light in tombs, sanctuaries, and building foundations. These ‘photoamulets’ were linked to metaphoric light both in word, image, and form. They were used for protection against darkness where evil spirits lurked. In a funerary context, photoamulets safeguarded the deceased person from non-remembrance and anonymity. They did so by invoking the apotropaic powers of light which ensured rebirth and eternal life. Mirror plaques, clay lamps with retrograde script, lamp-shaped pendants, and tokens were the most popular types adopted by Jews, Samaritans, and Christians in the late antique Near East.

Keywords: amulet, lamp, late antiquity, light, magic, Near East, sacred space, symbol

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.