Ancient Roman Terracotta Oil Lamp with Gladiator Head

£ 975.00

A fine Ancient Roman terracotta oil lamp featuring a decorated concave discus and a rounded-volute nozzle. The discuss depicts the helmeted head of a gladiator. The richly decorated helmet, known as the galea, features its characteristic long crest which shows exceptional retention of details. The image is framed by three concentric circles and the lamp’s two volutes are placed between the discuss and nozzle. The small filling hole can be found to the helmet’s right and the reverse features the incused letters L.M.C which indicate the manufacturer. This lamp belongs to the Loeschcke type IV, which is characterised by a narrow, rounded nozzle flanked by volute-spines, round shoulders and the absence of a handle.

Date: Circa 1st - early 2nd century AD
Period: Emperor Tiberius - Trajan
Provenance: Ex J.L. collection, 2021; previously from the collection of Arno Jumpertz, Leverkusen, Germany, 1924-1984. Most of the collection was exhibited at Neus museum, 1985.
Condition: Fine condition, signs of wear over the surface consistent with age.


SKU: MG-296 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. 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. Lamps, such as this example, are classified as Loeschcke IV, Bailey B group II, which became standardised during the Tiberian to early Trajianic periods.

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

Weight 48.1 g
Dimensions L 9 x W 6.2 cm


Pottery and Porcelain

Reference: For another Loeschcke IV oil lamp, please see The Metropolitan Museum, item 74.51.2005 For a similar iconography,The J. Paul Getty Museum, item 83.AQ.377.41

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