Wooden papyrus-shaped lamp stand

From Egypt
New Kingdom (1550-1070 BC)

Wooden lamp stand in the shape of a papyrus column

Egyptian houses were usually lit by means of simple pottery or stone bowls containing oil, with a reed wick. These were often placed on the floor, in niches, or on stands. Lamp stands were sometimes modelled on temple columns, just as the exterior decoration of houses sometimes copied the temple entrance.

Columns in the shape of bunches of papyrus were a standard feature of the open air courts and hypostyle halls of temples. Such columns are often topped with capitals in the shape of lotus blooms. The columns represented the marshy areas at the margins of the Primeval Mound (the seat of creation) as it rose out of the water at the beginning of the world. According to one myth, the sun emerged from a lotus blossom on top of the mound and rose to the sky.

Several other creation traditions are preserved in various forms, usually linked to the deities of the town in which they developed. The creation myth of Heliopolis, for example, makes the god Atum the creator, while the theology at Memphis centres on its local god Ptah. This myth was recorded on the so-called Shabako stone in the Twenty-fifth Dynasty (about 747-656 BC).

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More information


M. Stead, Egyptian life (London, The British Museum Press, 1986)


Height: 88.500 cm

Museum number

EA 35763



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