North African Roman Redware Oil Lamp with Lion


A Roman terracotta oil lamp from North Africa featuring a long, canal nozzle with a rounded body. The discus is decorated with the side profile of a lion facing left with both his front and hind legs outstretched in a leaping position. Two filling holes have been placed to either side of the animal. The shoulders, acting as a decorative border for the scene, feature a geometric pattern of triangles alternating with foliage motifs. There is a lug handle to the rear of the lamp for holding. The base features a raised ring connected to the handle, forming a design that is sometimes called a ‘patera’. This lamp can be catalogued as Atlante X; Hayes II A.

Date: Circa 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, minor restoration to the nozzle. The oil lamp is mounted on a custom-made stand.


SKU: LD-246 Category: Tags: , ,

During 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. During the fourth and fifth century AD, North Africa started to produce oil lamps from red slip, much like this fine example, with large discus areas which allowed for numerous designs. The catalogue type Hayes II is split into two categories, this oil lamp falls under Hayes II A which holds characteristics from central Tunisia, one being the neatly drawn motives around the shoulder.

The lion was an animal frequently depicted on oil lamps. Within later antiquity as Christianity became the favoured religion the depiction of a lion referred specifically to St Mark, who was known as the ‘the Lionhearted’.

Weight 277.6 g
Dimensions W 8.3 x H 14.8 cm

Pottery and Porcelain