Ancient Roman Terracotta Oil Lamp from North Africa

£ 195.00

An Ancient Roman oil lamp displaying the characteristic red slip of North African terra sigillata. The vessel features an oval body, solid triangular handle and a large, slightly sunken discus with a small central filling-hole. A raised band marked off by two grooves encloses the undecorated discus, and extends towards the nozzle. The reverse remains smooth and unadorned, with the exception of a single ridge that extends from the handle to the concave vase ring.

Date: Circa 4th Century AD
Provenance: From a specialist collection of Roman Oil Lamps formed by Robert Brockie (deceased).
Condition: Fine condition.


SKU: AF-36 Category: Tags: ,

The Roman oil lamp, a product almost unparalleled in its distribution throughout the empire, developed towards the end of the Hellenistic period and was to keep its general shape longer than any other item of pottery throughout the Mediterranean. The vast trade networks set up with the expansion of the Roman empire allowed for 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.

African Red Slipware is identified as the final development of terra sigillata, from the Latin, meaning ‘sealed earth’. Terra sigillata was a form of Roman red slipware pottery, which was developed around the mid-1st century BC, both for domestic use and export. These pieces were modelled on the lathe directly in the matrix, on which decorative motifs were hollowed out and then impressed on the smooth body of the vessel, appearing therefore in relief. Sometimes the decorative motifs in relief would have been applied to the vessel by using a very thin, liquid clay. One of the most important centres of production was the Italian city of Arretium (modern day Arezzo). However, terra sigillata wares were produced also in Gaul and later in North Africa and Asia Minor.

Weight 154 g
Dimensions L 12.1 x W 7.8 x H 4.8 cm


Pottery and Porcelain

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