Roman Terracotta Oil Lamp with a Kantharos


A terracotta Roman oil lamp featuring an elongated oval body and a circular discuss. A raised ridge surrounds the discuss, which continues around the large nozzle hole to form a broad canal. A solid spike like handle, which is flattened on each side, sits at the top of the lamp and the base is supported with a ring foot. The discuss, with two filling holes on either side, is decorated with a large kantharos, embellished with geometric designs. The shoulder is enriched with concentric circles alternating with tringles.

This oil lamp resembles Atlante type X; Hayes type II

Date: Circa mid 5th - mid 6th century AD
Condition: Fine condition, encrustation to the surface. Small amount of residue to the base from a previous sticker. Black pigment is visible around the nozzle from the burning of oil.

In stock

SKU: LD-567 Category: Tags: ,

Oil lamps were originally called ‘lychnus’, from the Greek ‘λυχνος’, with the oldest Roman lamps dating back to the 3rd century BC. 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. During the fourth and fifth century AD, North Africa started to produce oil lamps from red slip, much like this fine example, with large discus areas which allowed for numerous designs. This oil lamp falls under Atlante X; Hayes IIA type, which holds characteristics from central Tunisia, one being the neatly drawn motives around the shoulder. Initially produced in Tunisia only, these oil lamps were broadly exported throughout the empire for about three centuries. Dogs were a common depiction on oil lamps. Being amongst the first animal to be domesticated, humans have had a longstanding relationship with dogs. This oil lamp depicts the loyal and loving relationship between man and his best friend.

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

Weight 173.7 g
Dimensions L 13.8 x W 7.6 cm

Pottery and Porcelain


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