Danny Syon, courtesy Gamla Excavations

Still enlightening, the Herodian oil lamps found at Gamla, such as this unusually well-preserved example, tell us that Gamla was a Law-observant Jewish community. In a time when elaborate designs using human faces and animals usually decorated oil lamps of the Roman world, nearly all of the hundreds of fragmentary oil lamps at Gamla eschewed such portrayals in obedience to the Second Commandment. Only three of these “Revolt Lamps,” as they are called at Gamla, have been found intact. The rest are broken, some no doubt in accordance with Jewish law, which requires the destruction of hollow ceramic containers that have been damaged, and therefore have become ritually unclean.