Syro-Palestinian Terracotta Oil Lamp


A Syro-Palestinian terracotta oil lamp featuring a shallow body and a small central filling-hole. To the top, a raised ring frames the slightly concave and undecorated discus, separating it from the large sloping shoulders. Traces of a simple ornamentation are still visible on them, comprising two dolphins separated by a rosette. The broad triangular nozzle features a flat top with bevelled sides, ending in two small volutes close to the discus ring. To the reverse, three circular grooves create an imitation base-ring.

Date: 1st century BC – 4th century AD
Provenance: Ex major S.M., London, Collection 1970-2010.
Condition: Good condition, a minor chip to the nozzle


SKU: MG-110 Category: Tags: , ,

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 with the expansion of the Roman Empire allowed this item to be spread across Europe, Eastern Asia and Northern Africa.

Oil lamps such as this example resemble the Loeschcke type II in their angular nozzle and circular discus. A specific place of manufacture or origin, however, has yet to been given to this item. The closest parallels found to date are all from the Levant, Lebanon, and Syria, pointing to a Near Eastern origin.

To discover more about oil lamps in Antiquity, please visit our relevant blog post: Lighting The Way.

Weight 37.9 g
Dimensions L 8.6 x W 6.2 cm

Pottery and Porcelain


Reference: For a similar item, please see The J. Paul Getty Museum, item 83.AQ.377.553

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