The body of this cylindrical censer is decorated with eight columns spaced at regular intervals. The lid of the censer consists of an openwork dome divided into sections by eight vertical ribs that converge at its apex. An arched horizontal band intersects the midpoint of the ribs, and these eight junctures are marked with a projecting bird that holds a small bronze ball dangling from its beak. Two segments of the dome are decorated with Maltese crosses while another two feature curved plant forms. The apex is surmounted by a finial comprised of a globe topped by a Maltese cross on which a bird holding a piece of fruit perches.
During liturgical rituals this Coptic censer would have been swung on a chain attached to its lid in order to scent the church with incense. The incense, usually spices or wood gums, would have been sprinkled over a bed of smoldering coals in the body of the censer, and the sweet fragrance of the burning incense would have exited through the perforated lid. The columns encircling the body of the censer, the domed lid, and the finial give the censer the appearance of a domed church, which would have visually harmonized the censer with its setting.
This bronze light fixture consists of a central circular celestial motif from which extend twelve arms in a radial pattern. Six of these arms, embellished with maltese crosses, end in omega-shaped terminals. These decorated arms alternate with six unadorned arms that terminate in rings designed to hold glass oil lamps. The entire disk is suspended from three bronze chains joined to a large hook.
This remarkably well-preserved bronze polycandelon from Coptic Egypt features six rings around its circumference that were designed to hold conical or beaker-shaped glass oil lamps. Similar bronze polycandela were common throughout the eastern Mediterranean and were used to light the interiors of both sacred and domestic structures, but the maltese crosses on six of the radial arms of this polycandelon suggest that it originally hung in a church. Another repeated Christian motif occurs around the edge of the polycandelon where the six rings for the oil lamps alternate with six terminals in the shape of an omega--the last letter of the Greek alphabet, which was associated with Christ who declared "I am the Alpha and the Omega" (Revelation 1:8 and 22:13). These Christian symbols together with the celestial motif at the center of the polycandelon might have imbued the light cast by this fixture with a religious significance beyond its solely utilitarian function.