In Antiquity, 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.
Roman Red Terracotta Oil Lamp
A delicately modelled Ancient Roman red terracotta oil lamp, featuring a perfectly round shape, a wide canal nozzle with obtuse-angle tip, flanked by two volutes, and one filling hole to the slightly concave discus. The discus is decorated with moulded concentric circles, while the lamp’s body and shoulders are enriched by a geometric pattern. The lamp’s shape can be classified as Loeschcke type I. In its simplicity, this artefact is a beautiful example of an everyday item of Roman Imperial times, with a lustrous rendering of the clay.
NB: Stand not included.
Condition: Fine, with signs of ageing to the surface.