Ancient Roman Terracotta Oil Lamp


A fine Ancient Roman terracotta oil lamp featuring a small ovoid body leading to an elongated rounded nozzle. The discuss is unusually rectangular in shape and is surrounded by a deep ridge. This continues down the nozzle to surround the burn hole, creating a deep channel from the filling hole. A spade effect is created around the filling hole. Two raised lugs are situated diagonally on the shoulders. There is flattened round handle to the rear of the lamp. The reverse features a flattened base marked by two concentric circles, surrounding the makers mark; IANVARI.

Date: Circa mid 1st - 3rd 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. Large chip to the handle. Some loss of slip.


SKU: AH-956 Category:

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. This particular oil lamp bears characteristics of lamps made in Germany (type – Buchi X),  including the broad channel created by the ridge around the discuss to the nozzle.

The maker’s mark to the reverse reads; IANVARI. Various lamps have been signed with this mark, indicating there was more than one site of lamp production. Examples have been found at Carthage as well as in Bulgaria. The rustic nature of this lamp, together with the similarities it bears to Buchi X type lamps would indicate a more regional place of origin. It was not unusual for local workshops to use maker’s marks belonging to popular potters.

Weight 53.4 g
Dimensions L 9.3 x W 5.8 cm

Pottery and Porcelain


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