Ancient Roman Factory Lamp with Maker’s Mark

£ 325.00

A fine ancient Roman terracotta factory oil lamp, known as a ‘Firmalampe’. The lamp features outward sloping shoulders, separated from the flat discus by a deep ridge. Symmetrically placed lugs appear on each side and one to the top for suspension. There is a protruding rounded nozzle with flat D-shaped tip and closed deep median groove and small air hole, which is now blocked. The base is flat, marked by concentric circles enclosing the maker’s mark ‘STROBILI’.

Date: Circa 1st Century AD
Provenance: From a specialist collection of Roman oil lamps formed by Robertson Brockie (deceased), all acquired before 2008 from a central London ADA gallery; Southport Lancashire.
Condition: Very fine condition, earthly encrustations cover surface.


SKU: HB-43 Category: Tag:

The factory lamp, so named because it was produced in such vast numbers, seems to have been popular with the Roman military. They originated at the time of the Flavian emperors, perhaps when manufacturers needed to produce as many as possible, as quickly as possible.

The maker’s mark signifies that his particular lamp was made by Strobili – Strobilus, roman potter and/or owner of a pottery workshop. Strobilus has been referred to as the “Father of the Firmalampe” and is considered that he may have invented the shape in the late sixties or early seventies of the first century AD. The workshop was situated in North Italy, perhaps near Magreta in the vicinity of Modena. Provincial lamps bearing his name have been found in many areas and the relationship between these and the North Italian workshop is unclear. Strobilus probably moved to Egypt in the late first century AD or a little later.

To discover more about oil lamps in Antiquity, please visit our relevant blog post: Lighting The Way.

Weight 118.6 g
Dimensions L 11.2 x W 7.8 cm

Pottery and Porcelain


Reference: For a similar item: The British Museum, London, item 1970-1231-3

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