Roman Asia Minor Terracotta Oil Lamp with Female Bust


A Roman Asia Minor terracotta oil lamp featuring an elongated oval body. The outward-sloping shoulder is decorated with striated ribbed grooves, surrounding a decorated discus. The discus features the bust of a female, depicted with braided hair. Beneath her is a symbol, possibly the ‘ankh’ motif. If so, the figure depicted could possibly be the goddess Isis. There is an off-centre filling hole within the discus. The nozzle is broad and rounded, with evidence of burn marks around the large wick hole. There is a large pierced, lug handle to the back of the lamp. The lamp sits on a simple ring base to the reverse.

Date: Circa 6th Century AD
Provenance: From a specialist collection of Roman oil lamps formed by R. Brockie (deceased) in Southport, Lancashire, all acquired before 2008 from a central London A.D.A gallery.
Condition: Good condition. Minor scratches to the surface.


SKU: XJ-37 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. During the Roman Empire, it became commonplace to use lamps in funeral ceremonies and for public purposes. 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.

The particular lamp is a variant of Broneer XXIX, group 4, which is characterised by a lack of nozzle channel. Striations such as those seen here were a common decorative feature also. They were made in Asia Minor, especially from Ephesus.

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

Weight 131.1 g
Dimensions L 12 x W 6.9 x H 5.5 cm

Egyptian Mythology

Pottery and Porcelain



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