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: ,

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 173.7 g
Dimensions L 13.8 x W 7.6 cm

Pottery and Porcelain


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