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.
Ancient Roman Terracotta Oil Lamp with Radial Decoration
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 radiating lines, which enhance the discus together with 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 relatively large mouth. To the reverse, the base ring is marked by a shallow groove and displays a potter’s mark, the ‘planta pedis’, to the centre.
Provenance: Ex major S.M., London, Collection 1970-2010.
Condition: Fine condition.