Biblical Archaeology Review 39:4, July/August 2013

Strata: What Is It?

A. South Arabian incense shovel

B. Sassanian oil lamp

C. Roman-era ship’s stove

D. Model of a Phoenician ship

E. Ancient Egyptian furnace

Answer: (C) Roman-era ship’s stove

This odd-looking lead device, which measures just over 1.75 feet long and weighs nearly 25 pounds, is a rare example of a Roman-era ship’s stove that allowed sailors to prepare cooked foods and have warm drinks while at sea. The stove (also known as a nautical brazier) was recovered in shallow waters just off the coast of Gaza.

To use the device, sailors placed fiery coals along the bottom of the stove’s rounded basin, or hearth. The hearth’s shallower end (at right) was used to grill meat directly over hot coals, while the deeper, curved end (in the center) has three shell-shaped protrusions used to support pots filled with stews or beverages that required slower, more gradual heating. The opposite end of the brazier (at left) features a large, decorated cylindrical funnel that allowed water to be poured into the stove’s double-walled hollow interior in order to regulate the heat produced by the coals.

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