Ancient Roman Terracotta Oil Lamp with Rabbits and Dogs


An Ancient Roman terracotta oil lamp featuring a round body with a sunken discuss and a heart shaped nozzle. The shoulder is decorated with a row of double ovolos which is separated from the discuss with a ridge of two incised circles. The discuss displays two dogs alternating with two rabbits, all facing right in midleap as if chasing each other. A further raised ridge is placed below the scene leaving the centre unadorned except for the filling hole. The reverse features a curved concave triangle as the makers mark framed by an incised circle.

This oil lamp resembles Loeschcke VIII; Bussière form D X 1a.

Date: 2nd-3rd century AD
Provenance: From a specialist collection of Roman oil lamps formed by Robertson Brockie (deceased), all acquired before 2008 from a central London ADA gallery; Southport Lancashire.
Condition: Fine condition, handle missing and repaired. Burn marks on the nozzle.


SKU: LD-393 Category: Tags: , ,

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 (such as gladiators in combat), common myths and deities, and even animals. Pottery oil lamps could be made in three different ways: handmade, wheel made, or by mould. The use of the mould (which was made from clay or plaster) quickly became popular, because one mould could produce several lamps. Bussière lamps are characterised by a plain shoulder and heart nozzle. Later variants of this type include more intricate designs across the shoulder and discuss.

For more information about the meanings of animals in Roman art, see our relevant blog post: Animal Symbolism in Roman Art.

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

Weight 52.7 g
Dimensions L 7.9 x W 6.8 cm

Pottery and Porcelain


Reference: For a similar item shape,The J. Paul Getty Museum, item 83.AQ.377.244 and afor a similar discuss The J. Paul Getty Museum, item 83.AQ.377.469

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