Roman Oil Lamp With Laurel Wreaths


Ca. 2nd century AD. Roman. A mould-made redware terracotta oil lamp featuring a recessed discus decorated with two laurel wreaths and two laurel branches, a circular handle, smooth sidewalls. Two raised dots decorate the shoulder before the plain nozzle. During the Roman Empire, a lamp was originally called a ‘lychnus’ (from the Greek ‘λυχνος’) with the oldest Roman lamps dating back to the third century BC. It is thought that the Romans took the idea for lamps from the Greek colonies of Southern Italy. During the Roman Empire, it became commonplace to use lamps in funeral ceremonies and for public purposes. Over time, the manufacture of lamps increased, and so did the variation in decoration, which depended mainly on the shape and size of the lamp. Common decorative themes depicted on the discus were entertainment scenes (such as gladiators in combat), common myths, and animals. The shape of the nozzle helps to date this lamp to the 2nd century AD – cf. Walters, H. B. (1914). Catalogue of the Greek and Roman Lamps in the British Museum. London. Plate XXXI.

Size: L:50mm / W:98mm ; 61g

Provenance: Ex. C.M collection, London; formerly in the collection of Arnos Jumpers, Leverkusen Germany, formed between 1980 – 1994.

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