Roman Terracotta Oil Lamp


Ca. 3rd century AD. Roman. A beautiful oil lamp with a circular discus and handle, geometric decoration on the shoulders, a worn animal motif on the circular discus, and a heart-shaped 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 heart-shaped nozzle helps to date this lamp to the 3rd century AD — cf. Walters, H. B. (1914). Catalogue of the Greek and Roman Lamps in the British Museum. London. Plate XXXIII.

Size: L:105mm / W:78mm ; 62.24g

Provenance: Acquired from a London gallery; Formerly with Arnos Jumperz, Leverkusen Germany. His collection was formed before 1994 and passed by descent to his family.

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