Originally called a ‘lychnus’, from the Greek ‘λυχνος’, oil lamps were mass produced during the Roman era, becoming almost unparalleled in their distribution throughout the Empire. 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, which led to the development of several provincial variations. One of the most common methods of production for pottery oil lamps was through the use of a mould like this one. Moulds were particularly useful for oil lamps bearing intricate decoration on the discus, as multiple editions of the decorated upper portion could be quickly and identically made using a single mould.
To discover more about the ancient origins of oil lamps, visit our relevant post: Oil Lamps in Antiquity.