Ancient Roman Terracotta Oil Lamp with a Quadriga

£ 650.00

An Ancient Roman terracotta oil lamp featuring a solid vertical handle and a rounded nozzle. The shoulder displays a circular ridge marked off one grooves which slopes into a large sunken discus. One small filling hole to the top right in the decorated field. This depicts a quadriga, a chariot drawn by four horses abreast, richly ornamented with festoons. The quadriga was the favoured chariot for racing in the Roman Empire, but due to the rich ornamentation on the chariot this motif most likely depicts a procession. Detailing to the horses’ anatomy is very fine, as well as in the rendering of the chariot. The reverse remains undecorated and features a base ring.

Date: Late 2nd century to early 3rd century AD.
Provenance: From a specialist collection of Roman oil lamps formed by Roberton Brockie (deceased), all acquired before 2008 from a central London ADA gallery.
Condition: Extremely fine, the filling hole holds calcified remains of an ancient wick.


Product Code: RES-158
Category: Tags: ,

The Roman oil lamp, originally called a ‘lychnus’, from the Greek ‘λυχνος’, has been almost unparalleled in its distribution throughout the Empire. First developed towards the end of the Hellenistic period, oil lamps were to keep their 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. Lamps such as this fine example belong to the group of Bussière D X 10 lamps of Loeschke type VIII, which are characterised by a circular body and short round nozzle. Early examples form this group date to the Claudian times and proliferated between the 1st and 3rd century AD.

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

Dimensions L 12.3 x W 8.8 cm

Southern Europe



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