Illuminating the Past: Utilitarian Ceramics of the Ancient World

Illuminating the Past Exhibition August 27-December 14


In 2013, the Miami University Art Museum (MUAM) received a donation of ancient ceramics from Harvey and Deborah Breverman of Buffalo, New York. Their donation includes one-hundred and thirty-one ancient ceramic and bronze pieces, produced 1800 BCE–1500 CE. Consisting primarily of seventy-eight oil lamps, the collection includes small figural pieces, utilitarian vessels and several bronze items from Greece, Italy, the eastern Mediterranean, Israel, Byzantium, Egypt and Cyprus, among other locations.

Illuminating the Past explores the production and use, historical typology, iconography, cultural references, numismatic connections, and the evolution of such ancient ceramics. While oil lamps were ubiquitous throughout the ancient Mediterranean world and actively studied by humanities scholars over the past century, they are less well recognized by the museum-going public. The presentation of these objects presents a unique opportunity to view this often overlooked segment of ancient pottery used in the daily life of peoples from long ago.


Roman Oil Lamp, 2nd-3rd century CE
Gift of Harvey & Deborah Breverman

North Africa Oil Lamp, 1st century CE
Gift of Harvey & Deborah Breverman

Greek Lekythos Vase, ca. 500 BCE
Gift of Harvey & Deborah Breverman

10 a.m.-5 p.m. | Saturday Noon-5p.m.


Erin Adelman | Yiwen Bai | Charlee Biddle Isobella Dale | Matt Faccenda | Maria Jose DeSantiago Galan | Nathaniel Hieber | Sydney Hill | Grant Jurden | McCarthy Knepshield Victor Kurz | Kayla Olmsted | Lilia Theobald Macy Whitaker | Aubrey Woodard
Dr. Steve Tuck-Professor | Jay Zumeta-Advisor

Related Programming

NOTE: Gallery hours are extended during any program held after 5 p.m.Exhibition Lecture

Lamps and Leadpipes: Identifying Makers & Locating Roman Lamp Factories

Steve Tuck, Professor, Department of Classics

Wed, Oct 9, 4:30 PM

This lecture offered in conjunction with the exhibition, Illuminating the Past: Utilitarian Ceramics of the Ancient World, will focus on lamps, their makers’ marks (the names stamped on the bottom) and how we can use these, along with other evidence, to locate lamp factories in the ancient world.

All Programs are FREE & OPEN TO ALL and held at the Art Museum (unless noted otherwise).

Symposium: Illuminating the Past: Utilitarian Ceramics of the Ancient World

Sat, Oct 19, 9 AM-5 PM ~ Miami University Art Museum

A Free - all day event featuring speakers and subject matter experts in the fields of Classics, Anthropology, Archeology, Religion and Art History for an up close look into the ancient ceramics (oil lamps and vessels) from the Mediterranean region featured in the current exhibition of over 40 pieces. Illuminating the Past: Utilitarian Ceramics of the Ancient World, the exhibition is on display at the Miami University Art Museum August 27-December 14, 2019.  

8:30 AM - Registration

9:00 AM - Welcome/Introduction

9:15 AM - Juliet Graver Istrabadi, Art History ~ Curator of Art of the Ancient World, Sidney & Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art

10:30 AM - Michael Fuller, Anthropology ~ Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at St. Louis Community College

11:30 AM-1:00 PM - Lunch on your own (Western Dining Hall & Maple Street Station)

1:00 PM - Reconvene

1:15 PM - Kathleen Lynch, Classical Art & Archaeology ~ Professor, Department of Classics, University of Cincinnati

2:30 PM - Eric Lapp, Religion/Near East Archaeology ~ Adjunct Faculty Instructor, Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC)

3:45 PM - Robyn Le Blanc, Archaeology ~ Assistant Professor, Department of Classical Studies, University of North Carolina - Greensboro

4:45 PM - Concluding Remarks

5:00-6:30 PM - Reception


The Symposium is organized by:
Dr. Steve Tuck, Professor, Department of Classics, Miami University
Jay Zumeta, Professor Emeritus, Art History, Art Academy of Cincinnati
Laura Stewart, Collections Manager/Registrar, Miami University Art Museum
Jason E. Shaiman, Curator of Exhibitions, Miami University Art Museum

Symposium co-sponsored with:

Department of Classics, Miami University

Miami University Humanities Center

Archaeological Institute of America

Miami University Art Museum

The Kress Foundation