The production of oil lamps in the Roman Empire originated from the contacts with the Greek colonies of Southern Italy. Indeed, it is thanks to the Greeks that they learnt this skill, to such an extent that lamps were called ‘lychnoi’, from the Greek ‘λυχνοι’. It is during the Hellenistic period that the transition from wheel-made lamps to mould-made lamps took place. Terracotta lamps with elongated, flat-topped nozzles are a characteristic of the Hellenistic period. With the new methods and techniques of creating oil lamps came also new approaches to their decoration and aesthetic appearance.
Greek Hellenistic Terracotta Oil Lamp
A nice example of an Ancient Greek Hellenistic red terracotta oil lamp. The lamp features an elongated canal nozzle, and a decorated body with one filling hole. The body displays a moulded decoration comprising of an elaborate floral motive with foliage and acanthus scrolls. The lamp is filled with sedimented earthly encrustations, possibly from the place where the lamp was originally buried. The reverse appears flattened and unworked. The lamp can be classified as a variant of the Ephesus type, with a round nozzle and a flat plate surrounding the wick-hole.
Period: Fine, the lamp is filled with sedimented earthly encrustations. Some signs of ageing to the surface. Repaired.
Provenance: Ex S.M collection London, 1970’s-2000.