Roman Terracotta Oil Lamp with a Boar


A mould-made Roman terracotta oil lamp featuring a large decorated discus and volute nozzle. The central discuss features a running boar, to the right. Details to the face, snout and fur have been made using incised lines. The scene is surrounded by three concentric circles, leading to the shoulders. A filling hole sits just underneath the boar. The nozzle is deocorated to each side by two volutes and ends in a triangular point. The base is marked by two incised circles.

Date: Circa 1st century AD
Provenance: Ex S.M. collection, London, 1948 - 2000.
Condition: Very fine. Some loss of gloss.


SKU: AH-680 Category: Tag:

This lamp can be dated to the 1st century AD and it’s shape and form are known as Loeschcke Type I B/C (so called after the lynchologist, S. Loeschcke, who established the universal typology of lamps).

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. During the Roman Empire, the variation in decoration increased. Common decorative themes depicted on the discus included entertainment scenes (such as gladiators in combat), common myths and deities, and even 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.

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

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

Weight 87.3 g
Dimensions L 11.5 x W 8 x H 3.3 cm

Pottery and Porcelain


Reference: For a similar discus,The Metropolitan Museum, item 74.51.2189

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