Name of Object:



Mértola, Beja, Portugal

Holding Museum:

Mértola Museum

 About Mértola Museum, Mértola.

Date of Object:

Early hegira 7th century / Early AD 13th century

Museum Inventory Number:


Material(s) / Technique(s):

Common ceramic made from fine reddish paste, modelled on a potter’s wheel and fired in an oxidising atmosphere.


Height 18.2 cm, width 16.2 cm, diameter (of base) 12.7 cm

Period / Dynasty:

Almohad period




A spherical object with a distinctive slightly convex base, a handle at the top that is oval in cross-section, a semi-circular front opening and a conical vertical spike inside. It has a decoration of finger impressions, wavy incised lines and traces of white paint on a reddish background.
This unusual object was used as a lantern for lighting out of doors. Its closed form protected the flame from the wind and its large horizontal handle made it easy to carry. The object has been restored.

View Short Description

Unusual object similar to a lamp that was used to light open spaces. The semi-circular front opening allowed the light to come out, while the closed shape protected the flame from the wind and the horizontal handle made it easy to carry. This piece of popular art dates to the Almohad era.

How date and origin were established:

It was dated to the Almohad period on the basis of stratigraphy, since it was found in the abandoned levels of one of the houses of the citadel vacated after the Christian conquest of Mértola in AH 635–6 / AD 1238.

How Object was obtained:

Found in the archaeological excavations carried out by the Campo Arqueológico de Mértola in the citadel of the Castle of Mértola.

How provenance was established:

The technical and formal characteristics of this piece are typical of items produced in Mértola, although many similar items are to be found in the Valencia region (Spain).

Selected bibliography:

Gómez Martínez, S., “Catálogo da Cerâmica”, in Museu de Mértola. Arte Islâmica, ed. S. Macias, Mértola, 2001, p.130.
Gómez Martínez, S., “Contenedores de Fuego en el Garb al-Andalus”, in Actas do III Congresso de Arqueologia Peninsular. Vila Real de Trás-os-Montes, Setembro de 1999, Vol. VII: Arqueologia da Idade Média da Península Ibérica, Porto, 2000, pp.421–4.

Citation of this web page:

Susana Gómez Martínez "Lamp" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2024.;ISL;pt;Mus01;1;en

Prepared by: Susana Gómez Martínez
Translation by: Gilla Evans
Translation copyedited by: Monica Allen

MWNF Working Number: PT 03