In Antiquity, 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, 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, popular myths, and domestic animals. Rooster especially were not only beloved and popular domestic animals, but also held an important role in the prediction of outcome of battles and fights. Furthermore, the rooster was believed the sacred animal to the Roman god Mercury. Oil lamps moulded in North Africa and referred to the type Atlante XI B, Hayes II A, are characterized by a fine clay, glossy bright orange slip, a long canal nozzle with flukes on each side, perhaps a reminiscence of volutes, and a closed discus, surrounded by a continuous shoulder-frame.
Roman Terracotta Oil Lamp with Rooster
An Ancient Roman bright red terracotta oil lamp, featuring a long canal nozzle, with flukes at each side, a concave discus with two filling holes, and a single moulded handle. The lamp’s discuss is decorated with the moulded depiction of a rooster, shown walking left, while a nicely rendered geometric pattern frames the scene. The lamp was produced in the Roman colonies of North Africa and can be classified as type Atlante XI B, Hayes II A.
Provenance: From the collection of Arno Jumpertz, Leverkusen, Germany, 1924-1984. Much of the collection was exhibited at the Neus Museum, 1985.
Condition: Fine, small areas repaired; handle chipped.