Finely Decorated Holy Land Oil Lamp


An Ancient Roman finely potted oil lamp from Holy Land. The discus is decorated with a circular pattern of rosettes around a raised rim surrounding the central filling hole. To the rear, a small ring handle and the lamp stands on a low ring base. The number or letters IV have been scratched in antiquity at the centre of the base, possibly a maker’s mark or a batch number.

Date: 5th - 6th century AD
Provenance: From the collection of Arno Jumpertz, Leverkusen, Germany, 1924-1984. Much of the collection was exhibited at the Neus Museum, 1985.
Condition: Very fine, light accretions to whole.


SKU: AS-3670 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. 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 mould (which was made from clay or plaster) quickly became popular, because one mould could produce several lamps.

This type of oil lamp, made from a mould, with a solid handle, was popular from 3rdcentury AD and onwards and the design is typical of those made within the Roman colonies in the Holy Land and in North Africa.

Weight 44.2 g
Dimensions L 9.6 cm

Pottery and Porcelain