Selection of Byzantine Oil Lamps


A selection of Byzantine moulded terracotta lamps, most commonly known as a slipper lamp. The decoration of the lamp is typically abstract, the shoulders feature vertical lines and vine scrolls in relief. The body tapers in at the nozzle with the wick hole slightly blackened from use. A conical knobbed handle is placed at the top of the lamp, now unfortunately chipped. Lamps such as this one are occasionally known as animal head lamps, due to the appearance of the knob on the handle.



Date: Circa 5th-8th Century AD
Condition: Fine, with signs of aging to the surface.
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SKU: LD-70 Category: Tags: , ,

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. 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.

To learn more, check out our blog post on the ancient oil lamp

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Pottery and Porcelain


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