Roman 1st Century Oil Lamp with Erotic Scene


A Roman terracotta oil lamp featuring a large decorated discus. Surrounded by three concentric incised circles, the discus features an erotic scene of a man and a woman, as they initiate the process of copulating. The woman has been positioned seated, her head turned in profile and her legs raised vertically to create a deep V-shape with her body. The man, head bowed and kneeling, is positioned behind her, his erect member visible. In his left hand he also holds a phallus. The swirling sheets of their bed have been indicated with deep incision marks. Overall the scene has been designed in deep relief.

The oil lamp features a volute, rounded nozzle with a flat base. A circular groove has also been employed to the bottom, as a further indication of its base. There is a maker’s mark to the base comprised of a swirling pattern.

Comes with a custom-made stand, as shown. Dimensions given are for the lamp alone.

Date: Circa 1st - early 2nd century AD
Provenance: Ex S.M. collection, London, 1948 - 2000.
Condition: Very fine. Chip to the reverse and some natural abrasions to the whole lamp. Some loss of gloss.


This lamp type, with its rounded nozzle and volutes can be categorised as Loeschcke type IV (so called after the lynchologist, S. Loeschcke, who established the universal typology of lamps). Dates for this type of lamp are given to the 1st century AD and early 2nd century, largely from the reigns of the Roman Emperor Tiberius, beginning in AD 14 to the end of Emperor Trajan in AD 117. These dates have been given largely due to the distinctive maker’s marks found on various examples, linking the lamps to specific workshops operating at the time.

Weight 79.2 g
Dimensions L 11.7 x W 8.5 x H 2.6 cm

Pottery and Porcelain


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