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.