The first terracotta oil lamps appeared in the Near East around the late 3rd Millennium B.C. They were handmade and presented a squared shape with pinched corners. Lamps, such as this example, belong to a later group and are classified as Vessberg type 1. Wheel-made, hence easier to produce, they soon prevailed and lasted for about two thousand years with little changes to their shapes. Originally called a ‘lychnus’, from the Greek ‘λυχνος’, oil lamps were mass produced during the Roman era, becoming almost unparalleled in their distribution throughout the Empire. 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, which led to the development of several provincial variations.
Iron Age Terracotta Oil Lamp
An Iron Age terracotta oil lamp in the shape of a slightly concave basin. The vessel flares outwards into a flat folded rim, pinched at the front to form a narrow open spout. The old collection numbers are written in back and blue ink on the broad slightly convex base, as well as on the right side of the spout. Some weathering and earthy encrustations remain on the surface.
Period: Iron Age
Condition: Good condition. A small crack to the rim.