Ancient Roman Terracotta Oil Lamp with Planta Pedis

£ 225.00

A fine Ancient Roman terracotta oil lamp featuring a round body and a small filling-hole set into a plain sunken discus. The vessel’s shoulders are decorated with a stylised butterfly rendered in high relief on either side of the discus, which is enhanced by two raised concentric circles. The shoulders are additionally enriched by two ribbon-like decorations to the sides. The squat triangular nozzle is flanked by two pseudo-volutes and features a small mouth. To the reverse, the base ring is marked by a shallow groove and displays a faint potter’s mark, the ‘planta pedis’, to the centre.

Date: Circa mid 1st century AD
Provenance: From a private Preston, Lancashire collection, RB, who amassed a collection of over 200 lamps, the majority acquired via a London A.D.A member gallery.
Condition: Good condition, some signs of ageing to the surface.


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 such as this example are difficult to attribute to a specific date and area, but are not earlier than the middle of the 1st century AD. They can be related to Howland type 54B, however the nozzle is longer and more closely resembles that of several lamps found at Debaal, Lebanon.

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

Weight 40.2 g
Dimensions L 9 x W 6.4 cm

Pottery and Porcelain


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