Large Ancient Roman Terracotta Oil Lamp with Lion

£ 395.00

A Roman terracotta oil lamp with a rounded body and decorated discus. The flattened shoulders display foliage in relief on each side, which is separated from the slightly concave discus by a ridge. The ridge continues toward the round-tipped nozzle forming a wide channel between the discus and the wick hole. Two equal-sized filling-holes sit in the upper and lower part of the discus, which has been decorated with a lion running left. To the reverse, there is a raised, slightly convex base-ring with an additional inner ring. Earthly encrustation to the surface.

Date: 4th century AD
Provenance: Acquired from a central London Antiquities Dealers Association (ADA) member's gallery in 1990. From the estate of a Lancashire gentleman.
Condition: Good Condition. Some earthly encrustations and black marks on the nozzle, a sign of the burning of the wick.


SKU: AG-40 Category: Tags: , ,

In Antiquity, 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.

To discover more about oil lamps in Antiquity, please visit our relevant blog post: Lighting The Way.


Weight 159.2 g
Dimensions L 13.5 x W 10 cm

Pottery and Porcelain


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