Roman North African Oil Lamp with Dog


A small-sized Roman oil lamp featuring an elongated oval body and a circular discus. A raised ridge surrounds the discuss, which continues around the large nozzle hole to form a broad canal. A solid spike like handle, which is flattened on each side, sits at the top of the lamp and the base is supported with a ring foot. The discus, with two filling holes on either side, is decorated with a furry dog wearing a neck collar facing right. Its back legs are slightly bent imitating the action of walking and it has its head bent down. The shoulder is enrich with geometric curved motifs ending in a triangle at each end.

This oil lamp resembles Atlante type X; Hayes type II

Date: Circa 5th-6th century AD
Provenance: From a specialist collection of Roman oil lamps formed by Robertson Brockie (deceased), all acquired before 2008 from a central London ADA gallery; Southport Lancashire.
Condition: Excellent condition, earthly encrustation to the surface.


SKU: LD-394 Category: Tags: , ,

Oil lamps were originally called ‘lychnus’, from the Greek ‘λυχνος’, with the oldest Roman lamps dating back to the 3rd century BC. 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. 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. This oil lamp falls under Atlante X; Hayes IIA type, which holds characteristics from central Tunisia, one being the neatly drawn motives around the shoulder. Initially produced in Tunisia only, these oil lamps were broadly exported throughout the empire for about three centuries. Dogs were a common depiction on oil lamps. Being amongst the first animal to be domesticated, humans have had a longstanding relationship with dogs. This oil lamp depicts the loyal and loving relationship between man and his best friend.

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

Weight 97.2 g
Dimensions L 10.7 x W 6.1 cm

Pottery and Porcelain


Reference: For a similar item shape,The J. Paul Getty Museum, item 83.AQ.377.552