Two Historical Terracotta Vessels SP 3388

These two clay lamps were photographed together, however one (A419) was found in Mound F, and the other (Bg3) was found in Mound A-B.

There are three photographs of these lamps, with subtle differences. E.g two of them include photographic scales, but the scales are slightly different. The third image (ASI no. 495/86) doesn't include a scale at all. The lighting and backgrounds used for all three are also different, which point towards the fact that at this time, photography of archaeological artefacts was not yet standardised even across the same site, and that individuals were taking autonomous decisions for how to capture and record the images.


Left: No. 88 (A419) is a pedestalled lamp with four equidistant, holed lugs; 1.7 in. high and 3.75 in. across. Mound F, Trench A; Depth 3 ft. b.s.; Stratum 1. (Vats, 1940. Pg 375)

Right: [The label on the lamp is Bg3, but it seems to be similar to Bg4, and Bg3 isn't listed by Sahni or Vats] "No. 83 (Bg4) is a four-pointed, pedestalled lamp rising from the centre of a saucer-shaped container. In shape it anticipated the modern patil-soz or shamadan which is usually made of brass and rises from the centre of a broad dish-like pedestal. It is 2-3 in. high and 2-6 in. long from point to point, the diameter of its cup-like container being 4 in. Mound AB, Trench B ; Depth 2 ft. b.s.; Stratum IV. (Vats, 1940. Pg 374)."

- Madho Sarup Vats, 1940. Excavations at Harappa: Being an account of archaeological excavations at Harappa carried out between the years 1920-21 and 1933-34. Volume I - Text; Volume II - 139 Plates., pg 374-375. Image Pl. LXXI, 83.


Both of these terracotta vessels are from later time periods and are not associated with the Harappan Phase. The so-called “lamp” on the left is possibly a hanging incense burner and not a lamp, with three preserved perforated projections and a forth projection appears to have been broken off. Charcoal and incense would have been placed in the cup and the container could be suspended with four cords and swung back and forth or hung in a shrine. The other vessel is an actual lamp and it was found on Mound AB. It has four projections for holding wicks.

- Jonathan Mark Kenoyer, 2023.

ASI Description: 

[Original caption Image 1] Two earthen lamps Nos. Bg3 and A419

[Original caption 2] Earthenware oil lamps with four lips

[Original caption 3] Three terracotta lamps

Delhi ASI Number: 
399/86, 419/86, 495/86
Silver Plate: 
3388, 3401, 500