Ancient Roman Terracotta Oil Lamp


A fine ancient Roman terracotta oil lamp featuring a small, rounded body leading to a delicate, rounded nozzle. The body features slightly inverted shoulders which lead into a wide, shallow basin. A moulded ridge, slightly protruding from the surface, runs along the edge of the discus, enhancing the simplified beauty of this delicate example.

This object is mounted in a custom made frame.

Date: Circa AD 1st -5th century AD
Condition: Good condition, with minor chipping around the wick hole, cracks around the oil hole. Signs of earthy encrustation remain visible to the surface.


SKU: HL-259 Category: Tags: ,

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. Pottery oil lamps could be made in three different ways: handmade, wheel made, or by mould. The use of the mould (which was made from clay or plaster) quickly became popular, because one mould could produce several lamps.

Weight 948.6 g
Dimensions L 27.8 x W 21 cm


Pottery and Porcelain

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