Roman Terracotta Oil Lamp with Lion


A Roman terracotta oil lamp featuring a decorated discus and a small heart-shaped nozzle. The central scene depicts a recumbent lion facing right. The maker has applied intricate detailing to the anatomical features, including the face, mane, tail, and paws of the lion. The design is enclosed by two concentric circles with a circular tongue motif arranged in a row around the shoulders, known as ovolo. To the top of the lamp sits a looped handle complete with a ridged groove. Two filling holes sit underneath the body of the lion, one slightly larger than the other. The reverse features a simple incised circle to the centre with a maker’s mark enclosed within, known as a ‘planta pedis’. This lamp can be catalogued as Bussière form D X 1, characterised by the ovolo pattern to the shoulder.

Date: Circa 2nd – 3rd Century AD
Provenance: Ex German collection, German Art Market.
Condition: Fine condition, the letters AET have been added to the base.


The Roman oil lamp, a product almost unparalleled in its distribution throughout the empire, developed towards the end of the Hellenistic period and was to keep its general shape longer than any other item of pottery throughout the Mediterranean. The vast trade networks set up with the expansion of the Roman Empire allowed for this item to be spread across Europe, Eastern Asia and Northern Africa. Oil lamps were used by the Romans for mainly three reasons; to light private and public spaces, to give as offerings in temples to the gods and to be placed within a grave or funerary context. As well as linear, geometric and circular designs, favourite subjects for decoration of oil lamps included gods and mythological scenes, scenes from everyday life, gladiatorial depictions, drawings relating to entertainment and theatre, and various animals, fish, and birds.

Weight 42.4 g
Dimensions L 9.5 x W 7 cm

Pottery and Porcelain


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