ROMAN OIL LAMP WITH CROSS
Measurements: length – 15.3 cm, width – 8.8 cm
Description: A red-slipped mould-made terracotta oil lamp with a tapering tongue handle, a large closed body and a long canal nozzle. The discus is surrounded by a prominent rim flowing into parallel lines along the spout. The discus is decorated by a geometric design of a square segmented in a shape of a stylised equilateral cross with dotted sections, palmettes sprouting from the sides of the square on the each end of the cross and dotted ringlets on the corners. It has two fill-holes to the each side of the decoration. The shoulder is moulded by a wide border of alternating dotted spades and tongues with dotted rim motifs terminating in radiating small circles to the base of the spout. The lamp has traces of black cinder around the mouth.
The shape and decoration of this lamp is characteristic for those produced in the Roman colonies in the North Africa, among others Tunisia, from the fourth century AD. The wide discus and shoulder areas of these lamps allowed for the use of complicated and rich pictorial scenes and multitude of decorative motives. This type of cross resembles those of the Early Christianity, which was introduced in Roman Africa by the end of the 2nd century AD and remained strong till the Muslim conquest in the end of the 7th century AD.
Provenance: Ex. collection of Hon. Robert Erskine, 1980s.
Reference: The Fitzwilliam Museum
Period: 4th - 6th century AD
Condition: Very fine, intact. Surface with minor crazing and encrustations. With small area of chipped slip to one of the sides.
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