Ancient Roman Oil Lamp with Calydonian Boar

£ 350.00

An extremely fine and well preserved example of an Ancient Roman oil lamp, moulded in red terracotta, Loeschke type V, Bailey C, group i. The lamp features a short canal nozzle, a concave discus with one filling hole, and a pierced, applied handle. The lamp’s shoulders have been decorated with a fine incised motif, echoing flower petals, framing the moulded depiction seen on the discus, focus of the composition. The depiction to the discus includes two naturalistically rendered animals, a boar and a dog, portrayed in a bucolic setting. The scene may refer to the hunt of the mythical Calydonian boar, which was sent by the goddess Artemis as a punishment for the king of the Greek city Calydon. The reverse of the lamp has been left unworked, and has been partially repaired in antiquity. This lamp testifies how scenes driven from literature and mythology were radically absorbed in Roman society and everyday life.

Date: Circa 1st-2nd Century AD
Provenance: From the collection of Arno Jumpertz, Leverkusen, Germany, 1924-1984. Much of the collection was exhibited at the Neus Museum, 1985.
Condition: Fine, repaired to the base.


Product Code: RES-106
Category: Tags: ,

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. 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, popular myths, and domestic animals. The scene depicted on this lamp might be interpreted as a moment of the Calydonian Hunt, during which a group of male heroes, together with the heroine Atalanta, took part to kill the monstrous Calydonian boar. The boar is here portrayed in the exact way the Latin author Ovid describes the creature in his Metamorphoses, with hairs bristled stiffly like spear-shafts. Scenes with a dog attacking a boar, intended as general hunting scenes or specifically as a moment of the Calydonian Hunt, were extremely popular decorative motives across the Roman Empire, featured on mosaics or carved in marble.

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

Weight 84.6 g
Dimensions L 6.5 x H 10.5 cm



Southern Europe

Roman Mythology

Calydonian Boar

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