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. 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 Terracotta Oil Lamp with Male Profile
A finely moulded Roman terracotta oil lamp featuring a heart-shaped nozzle and a pierced circular lug handle at the back, incised with two lines. The discus displays the side profile of a bearded man of a high status to the right, wearing a laurel wreath tied with streamers and drapery over his shoulders. Two filling-holes have been placed to either side of the figure. The profile is framed by two circles and the shoulder is decorated with a band of leaves and vine tendrils. The oil lamp sits on a flat base incised with concentric circles and the makers mark S A. This oil lamp is very similar to lamps catalogued as Loeschcke VIII; Bussière form D X 5.
Provenance: From the collection of Arno Jumpertz, Leverkusen, Germany, 1924-1984. Much of the collection was exhibited at the Neus Museum, 1985.
Condition: Fine condition, some earthy encrustation to the surface. The oil lamp comes with a custom-made stand.