Ancient Roman Terracotta Oil Lamp

£ 195.00

Ancient terracotta Roman oil lamp, mould made. The lamp features a concave discus with a central filling hole, surrounded by a rosette of twelve slender petals. A raised concentric circle, and a band of ovolos adorn the outer edge of the discus. The lamp also features a raised base ring, with impressed stamp, and is perhaps Vessberg Type 13, of Cypriot origin.

Date: Circa 2nd Century AD
Provenance: Ex SM collection, Israel, acquired 1970-1999.
Condition: Fine Condition


The Roman oil lamp, originally called a ‘lychnus’, from the Greek ‘λυχνος’, has been almost unparalleled in its distribution throughout the Empire. First developed towards the end of the Hellenistic period, oil lamps were to keep their general shape longer than any other item of pottery throughout the Mediterranean. The vast trade networks set with the expansion of the Roman Empire allowed this item to be spread across Europe, Eastern Asia and Northern Africa.

Oil lamps were used by the Romans for mainly three reasons; to light private and public spaces, to give as offerings in temples to the gods and to be placed within a grave or funerary context. As well as linear, geometric and circular designs, favourite subjects for decoration of oil lamps included gods and mythological scenes, scenes from everyday life, gladiatorial depictions, drawings relating to entertainment and theatre, and various animals, fish and birds.

Weight 43.53 g
Dimensions L 8.4 x W 7.2 x H 1.7 cm
Pottery and Porcelain



Reference: For similar: The Metropolitan Museum, New York, item 74.51.1901

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