Roman Oil Lamp with Kantharos


A Roman redware mould-made lamp, finely decorated with a kantharos and vine upon its central discus. The lamp has a convex lower part, flat top, and channel running between the disk and blackened nozzle. Two vine branches run along the shoulder, bordering the discus. In the middle, refilling holes are present with a tongue handle to the rear.

Date: Circa 3rd-4th century AD
Condition: Some loss of red slip and signs of original scorch marks.

In stock

SKU: AH-253 Category: Tags: ,

During 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.

‘Kantharoi’ were an ancient Greek drinking vessel, used to hold wine. They were an attribute of the god of wine, Dionysus, who was also associated with vegetation and fertility.

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

Weight 145.0 g
Dimensions L 13.6 x W 6 x H 4 cm


Pottery and Porcelain

Greek Mythology

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