Roman North African Redware Lamp with Lion


An Ancient Roman North African redware mould-made lamp. The central discus is finely decorated with a maned lion walking right, within an arc of geometric swirls and designs. To the rear, a solid hug handle and the lamp stands on a low ring base.

Date: Circa 4th – 5th 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: a flaw to the nozzle in manufacture.


SKU: AS-3706 Category: Tags: , , ,

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. 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. 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.

This type of lamp, made form a mould, with a solid handle, was popular from the third century AD and onwards and the design is typical of those made within the Roman colonies of northern Africa.

For more information about the meanings of animals in Roman art, see our relevant blog post: Animal Symbolism in Roman Art.

Weight 173.8 g
Dimensions L 14 cm

Pottery and Porcelain