Roman Terracotta Oil Lamp with Stork


A finely modelled Ancient Roman red terracotta moulded oil lamp, featuring a volutes canal nozzle and a concave discus with one filling hole. The discuss appears decorated with the moulded depiction of a stork, portrayed walking right. The bird is rendered in an extremely naturalistic manner, with details, such as the long beak, plumage and legs, clearly readable.

Date: Circa 2nd-3rd Century AD
Condition: Fine, complete and intact.


SKU: AH-829 Category: Tag:

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. 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.

To the Romans, the stork was an animal associated with Pietas, and in particular, filial piety. The returning bird to its nest each year demonstrated family loyalty, caring for its older family members. Perhaps such a lamp was a gift to an older family member, showing their child’s devotion.

Weight 78.5 g
Dimensions L 10.7 x W 7.5 cm


Pottery and Porcelain

Reference: For Similar: Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery, Exeter, UK, item A512

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