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Oil lamp

Salignac-sur-Charente, 3rd century

Light-coloured terracotta, 3.4 x 8.5 x 6.8 cm

On permanent loan from the Musée d’Art et d’Histoire, Cognac

Oeuvre clé : lampe à huile

Lampe à huile, Salignac-sur-Charente, IIIe siècle, terre cuite, 3,4 × 8,5 × 6,8 cm, dépôt du musée d’Art et d’Histoire de Cognac

This oil lamp was discovered in the late 19th century during excavations at Salignac-de-Pons (now Salignac-sur-Charente). The central motif is the seven-branched lampstand (menorah), the emblem of Judaism par excellence that became widespread after the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 70 AD. The palm branch (lulav) and ram’s horn (shofar), on either side confirm this lamp’s Jewish identity. Dating from the 3rd century, it is one of the most ancient archaeological traces of Jewish presence in Gaul, preceded only by a lamp found at Orgon (Bouches-du-Rhône), dating from the 1st century AD. The circumstances of its unearthing did not enable the identification of the lamp’s owner, but objects and jewellery found in Aquitaine and Provence bear testimony to a scattered but sedentary Jewish presence there.

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