Roman Oil Lamp with Four Pointed Double Star

£ 250.00

A Roman terracotta oil lamp from North Africa featuring a long, canal nozzle with a rounded body. The body has been decorated with a four pointed double star on its discus. The star has been decorated with small dots. Around the edge and shoulders are concentric circles formed out of delicately incised parallel lines. The lamp features a filling hole to the centre and an handle to rear. The nozzle is blackened due to use, adding character and uniqueness of this item.

Date: Circa 5th-6th Century AD
Condition: Slight damage to the handle and chip to the shoulder.


SKU: AH-423 Category: Tags: ,

At Rome, 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.

The history of North Africa during the period of Classical Antiquity (circa 8th century BC to 5th century AD) can be divided roughly into the history of Egypt in the east; the history of Ancient Libya in the centre; and the history of Numidia (Algeria and Tunisia) and Mauritania (Morocco) in the west. The Roman Republic established the province of Africa in 146 BC, after the defeat of Carthage. The Roman Empire eventually controlled the entire Mediterranean coast of Africa.

Weight 165.7 g
Dimensions L 13.8 cm


Pottery and Porcelain

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