Across 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. During the Roman Empire, the variation in decoration increased. Common decorative themes depicted on the discus included entertainment scenes (such as gladiators in combat), common myths and deities, and even 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.
Roman Lamp With Gladiator Figure
Made in a buff-brown clay, this Roman lamp features a flaring nozzle with a large, decorated central discuss. The rim is flattened and includes concentric circles, to frame the figure within the centre. The discus depicts a gladiator turning to the left, equipped with a gleve, a helmet, and a shield. The lamp has a slightly raised base-ring.
Condition: Fine, with some signs of ageing.