Hellenistic Greyware Oil Lamp

£ 125.00

A mould-made greyware Hellenistic oil lamp with a carinated body and long nozzle. The lamp sits on a flat, raised base and it features radiating lines originating from the ridge of the filling hole, and two incised lines decorate the nozzle. Often classified as ‘delphiniform’ due to the resemblance to an abstracted dolphin, the lamp has a distinct ‘s’ shaped coil on a side lug, and was a popular shape in the eastern Mediterranean.

Date: Circa 2nd - 1st century BC
Provenance: Ex SM, Mayfair London collection 1970-99, thence by descent.
Condition: Very fine. Some minor chips to the body.


Product Code: GS-67
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. 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), introduced in the third century BC, quickly became popular, because one mould could produce several lamps.

To discover more about the ancient origins of oil lamps, visit our relevant post: Oil Lamps in Antiquity.

Dimensions L 9 x W 6 cm

Southern Europe



Reference: For a similar item, For a similar item, The Metropolitan museum, accession number 74.51.1876

You may also like…