Roman Terracotta Oil Lamp


Ca. 300–500 AD. Roman. A wonderfully preserved, mould-made terracotta lamp featuring a sunken discus, a central pour hole, a wide channel running down to the round nozzle, and an unperforated handle. The discus displays a floral pattern flanked by shoulders decorated with floral bands in low relief. 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.

Size: GCA-C401

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

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