Circular Ancient Roman Terracotta Oil Lamp


A fine Loeschcke type VIII Ancient Roman oil lamp featuring a round flat body with a sunken discus and wide rounded shoulders. The lamp is further characterised by a short and rounded nozzle, a feature developed around the second half of the 1st century AD and seen mainly in Mediterranean countries. A pattern of rounded tongues radiates outwards from the edge of the discus, ending into a circle and dot design at each side of the nozzle. Two dolphins separated by a rosette further enrich the shoulders. The discus displays a simple geometrical decoration comprising two concentric circles around the small filling-hole and to the outer edge. The flat base is marked by an imitation base-ring with a potter’s mark, reading H and N.

Date: 1st - 3rd century AD
Provenance: Ex major S.M., London, Collection 1970-2010.
Condition: Fine condition.


SKU: MG-111 Category: Tags: , ,

The Roman oil lamp, a product almost unparalleled in its distribution throughout the Empire, developed towards the end of the Hellenistic period and was to keep its 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. Early examples of Loeschcke type VIII lamps date back to Claudian times, and proliferated between the end of the 1st century AD and 3rd century AD. The impressed circles featuring at each side of this lamp’s nozzle allow us to identify a presumed eastern Mediterranean place of manufacture or origin for this example, rather than Italian or African.

Weight 53.8 g
Dimensions L 8.3 x W 7.5 cm

Pottery and Porcelain


Reference: For a similar item, please see The Metropolitan Museum, item 74.51.2083

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