Measurements: 10.8 cm length, 6.6 cm diameter, 3.9 cm height


Description: A North-African Roman mould-made terra sigillata oil lamp with an oval elongated body, elongated channel nozzle, and vertical handle flattened on both sides. The shoulder is decorated with alternating concentric circles and triangles. There is one filling-hole on each side of the concave discus, which features a rabbit jumping, with its head turned back. This discus scene may represent the hunt, a bucolic depiction of agricultural life, or the tradition of xenia. Xenia, translated as 'gifts of hospitality', were often foodstuffs such as fruit, fish and game that would be given by a host to his guests. Objects decorates with these foodstuffs, such as this lamp, were also often intended as gifts. The discus is surrounded by a ridge that continues around the nozzle to form a broad channel. In the middle of the base are two concentric circles.


Hayes classified these so-called Christian lamps in terra sigillata africana into two major types, I and II. This lamp belongs to type II A, meaning it comes from central Tunisia and is characterised by a fine clay, glossy light orange slip, and carefully executed decoration using a great number of neatly drawn shoulder motives. These lamps were initially produced in Tunisia only, but were broadly exported then imitated throughout the Roman Empire for three centuries.


Reference: For the shape and shoulder motives: Bussière, J. & Wohl, B. L., 2017, Ancient Lamps in the J. Paul Getty Museum, p. 356, no. 495, p. 358, no. 497


Period: 5th century AD


Condition: Very fine, with minor imperfections in the clay and encrustations over the whole. Minor chipping to the nozzle and shoulder. There has been a small restoration to the handle.

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