Oil lamps in antiquity were made from a variety of materials, including gold, silver, lead, bronze, and ceramic. During the Roman Empire, an oil 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. Bronze lamps were used from the earliest use of the lamp, from the 9th century BC up until the 7th century AD. Unlike their terracotta counterparts, which were used by all social classes, bronze lamps were reserved for the elite and wealthier classes. Byzantine lamps were a continuation of Roman lamps, with their decorative elements changing slightly to accommodate the rise of Christianity and the increased use of the lamp within the Byzantine church. Bronze lamp production seems to have halted after the Arab invasion in the 7th century.
To discover more about the ancient origins of oil lamps, visit our relevant post: Oil Lamps in Antiquity.