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. The encounter of local traditions led to a greater variety of oil lamps, reflecting local preferences. Examples from the Jerash-Gerasa group reflect this incursion of the local taste within the classical tradition by resembling the ‘Darom’ lamps in their shape, but displaying an ornamentation typical of the Hellenistic tradition.
Jerash-Gerasa Style Terracotta Oil Lamp
This small Jerash-Gerasa terracotta oil lamp features a narrow discus terminating in an arched nozzle, flanked by emphasised and elongated concavities. To the opposite side, the item presents a small unperforated knob handle, a distinctive feature which allows to classify this lamp as part of the Jerash-Gerasa group and distinguish it from the similar ‘Darom’ type. A circle and dot design is moulded in relief on each side of the mouth. Below it, an amphora tops the large filling-hole bounded by two raised circular ridges. Two floral braids branch off the handle and decorate the lamp’s shoulders with grape bunches and leaves. Much attention has been paid to the bottom of the lamp as well. A flower centres the base, enclosed in a circular frame composed of three raised bands. Two further ridges spring from the shoulders and fade into the nozzle.
Provenance: Ex major S.M., London, Collection 1970-2010.
Condition: Fine condition.