Across 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. During the Roman Empire, the variation in decoration increased. Common decorative themes depicted on the discus included entertainment scenes, popular myths, deities, and even animals. The figurative tradition of a lion attaching a stallion, a bovine or a stag, traces back to the Achaemenid Empire and Hellenistic period, being an emblem of victory and vanquish. During the Hellenistic period a great number of mosaics and funerary reliefs featuring depictions of wild animal hunts were produced. This tradition was passed into Rome: one of the most famous sculptures of a lion attaching a horse, now on display at the Musei Capitolini in Rome, became the new iconic symbol of Rome, replacing the famed statue of the she-wolf nursing the mythical founders of the city, Romulus and Remus. However, the depiction to the lamp’s discuss might also refer to the popular games in Roman amphitheatres and arenas, where wild animal hunts were performed.
Ancient Roman Terracotta Oil Lamp with Lion
A finely moulded and good sized Ancient Roman red terracotta oil lamp, featuring a short canal nozzle, and a wide, slightly concave discus with one filling hole. The discus is surrounded by two circular grooves and holds the moulded depiction of a lion, facing right, devouring the head’s of a bovine or horse. The reverse features moulded, concentric circles. This lamp can be catalogued as Bussière form D IX type.
Condition: Very fine. The lamp has been mounted on a custom-made stand ideal for display.