A very fine example of a Roman, Herodian style terracotta oil lamp. This lamp bears elegant simplicity, having been produced using both a pottery wheel and hand-moulding. The body of the lamp is circular with a slightly rounded base and large central filling hole surrounded by a narrow discus. The nozzle was shaped by hand and subsequently attached to the body of the lamp, bearing the typical Herodian curved spatulate shape, achieved by knife-paring. The reverse also bears signs of knife-pairing used to create a smooth finish.
Date: Circa 1st Century AD Provenance: Formerly in the Ibrahim Kara’in collection, Jerusalem, 1987. Condition: Very fine, minor lime deposits.
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. It is thought that the Romans took the idea for lamps from the Greek colonies of Southern Italy. During the Roman Empire, it became commonplace to use lamps in funeral ceremonies and for public purposes. This particular example is rendered in the Herodian style, a group which appeared during the reign of King Herod the Great of Judaea, the Roman province of Palestine. These lamps were typically wheel-thrown and with a hand-formed nozzle with curved sides. Their usage was primarily limited to the region of Judaea.