Byzantine Oil Lamp with Zoomorphic Handle


A Byzantine red terracotta oil lamp, most commonly known as slipper lamp. The decoration of the lamp is typically abstract, depicting lines and vine scrolls in relief. The wick hole is slightly blackened from use. Lamps such as these ones, are occasionally known as animal head lamps, due to the appearance of the knob on the handle.

Date: Circa 5th-8th Century AD
Condition: Fine, complete and intact.


SKU: FP-189 Category: Tags: ,

In Antiquity, a lamp was originally called a ‘lychnus’, from the Greek ‘λυχνος’, with the oldest Roman lamps dating back to the third century BC. It is thought that the Romans took the idea for lamps from the Greek colonies of Southern Italy. During the Roman Empire, it became commonplace to use lamps in funeral ceremonies and for public purposes. Over time, the manufacture of lamps increased, and so did the variation in decoration, which depended mainly on the shape and size of the lamp. Common decorative themes depicted on the discus were entertainment scenes, such as gladiators in combat, common myths, and animals. Pottery oil lamps could be made in three different ways: handmade, wheel made, or by mould. The use of the mouldwhich was made from clay or plaster) quickly became popular, because one mould could produce several lamps.

Weight 62.2 g
Dimensions L 10.7 x W 5.7 cm

Pottery and Porcelain