Ancient Roman-Phoenician Oil Lamp from Tyre

£ 225.00

A Roman-Phoenician terracotta oil lamp from Tyre, an ancient city in Phoenicia. This elegant pale orange terracotta lamp features a rounded body which tapers into a nozzle, decorated with incised volutes towards the body. A very pleasing decoration featuring foliage and berries is arranged around four concentric circles that enclose the filling hole. A small lug handle to the rear of the body which would have been used for holding. The lamp’s ring base is flattened for easy placement and it encircles the maker’s mark. A leaf motif and an incision further embellish the base.

Date: Circa 2nd century AD
Provenance: Ex SM, Mayfair London collection 1970-99, thence by descent.
Condition: Very fine, some minor chipping around nozzle hole and lug handle, some earthly encrustations.


Product Code: RES-145
Categories: , Tags: ,

Tyre is one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world, located in modern-day Lebanon. The Romans conquered it in the 1st Century BC, but the city benefitted from its status of “civitas foederata” which enabled it to remain rather independent under Roman rule. A very important commercial port, the city was the neighbouring Damascus’s elected seaway and also connected with the Silk road trade. Furthermore, Tyre was renown in antiquity for the production of high-quality purple dye, named after the city itself, and linen.

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.

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

Dimensions L 9 x W 6.5 cm

Southern Europe



You may also like…