Ancient Lamps in the J. Paul Getty Museum, by Jean Bussière and Birgitta Lindros Wohl
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This is the repository for Ancient Lamps in the J. Paul Getty Museum by Jean Bussière and Birgitta Lindros Wohl, published in August 2017 by the J. Paul Getty Museum. It is available online at and may be downloaded free of charge in multiple formats.

About the Book

Some 630 lamps in the J. Paul Getty Museum represent production centers that were active across the ancient Mediterranean world between 800 B.C. and A.D. 800. Notable for their marvelous variety—from simple clay saucers that held just oil and a wick to elaborate figural lighting fixtures in bronze and precious metals—the Getty lamps display a number of unprecedented shapes and decors. Most were made in Roman workshops, which met the ubiquitous need for portable illumination in residences, public spaces, religious sanctuaries, and the grave. The omnipresent oil lamp is a font of popular imagery, illustrating myths, nature, and the activities and entertainments of daily life. Presenting a largely unpublished collection, this extensive catalogue is an invaluable resource for specialists in lychnology, art history, and archaeology alike.

Using this Repository

While stable, the structure and code of this repository are very much in a prototype stage. This is the third in series of multi-format online collection catalogues using a new toolchain built with Middleman, an open-source static site generator. (The first two were Ancient Terracottas from South Italy and Sicily in the J. Paul Getty Museum and Roman Mosaics in the J. Paul Getty Museum.) Middleman and the other associated open-source software used here allow us to produce each format (e.g., PDF, EPUB, MOBI) from a single set of source files. Our aim is to use open web technologies and plain-text file formats to ensure the book’s longevity and portability, while still achieving a high level of design and interactivity.

Getty Publications is currently at work on more catalogues and other online publications, and we are refining our approach and rebuilding large portions of the code—all with an eye toward releasing a stable, open-source development-friendly version for broad use. Until then, making use of this existing project as the basis for new work is not recommended.

The content, on the other hand, is very stable. The research presented here has been thoroughly edited and peer-reviewed and meets the same standards the rest of our publications do. We are dedicated to maintaining the book for years to come at the permanent URL,, and in its various formats and incarnations. For any updates to the book, we will be following something between an app and traditional book publication model. Updates will only be made in regulated chunks as formal revisions and new editions and will always be thoroughly documented here in the repository, as well as in the Revision History included with each of the book’s many formats.

The primary content pieces of the book can be found in the data and source directories. The master branch represents the current, published edition at all times, and the revisions branch, when present, will show changes currently under consideration. We invite you to submit suggestions or corrections via pull request on the revisions branch, by posting an issue, or by emailing us at


Ancient Lamps © 2017 J. Paul Getty Trust. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Proteus Middleman © 2014–2015 thoughtbot, inc. Proteus Middleman is free software and may be redistributed under the terms specified in the license.