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.