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.