Roman Terracotta Decorated Oil Lamp from North Africa

£ 295.00

A beautifully rendered Ancient Roman bright red terracotta oil lamp, featuring a long canal nozzle, a slightly concave discus with two filling holes, and a single moulded handle. The lamp’s shoulders are finely decorated with an alternating motif of rosettes and concentric circles arranged in a band running along the two sides of the discus, where an amphora vase featuring an intricate decoration can be seen between the two filling holes. The lamp is a fine example of the so-called lamps in Terra Sigillata Africana (TSA), and was moulded in the Roman provinces of North Africa, modern day central Tunisia. The lamp can be classified as type Atlante X, Hayes II A. The reverse features moulded, concentric circles.

Date: Circa 4th – 6th century AD.
Provenance: From a private Preston, Lancashire collection, RB, who amassed a collection of over 200 lamps, the majority acquired via a London A.D.A. member gallery.
Condition: Fine, a chip to the handle and one to the body. Blackening around wick hole.


Product Code: RES-183
Category: Tags: ,

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. During the Roman Empire, it became commonplace to use lamps in funeral ceremonies and for public purposes. 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. This particular variation, Terra Sigillata Africana, is native to the Roman province comprising present-day central Tunisia, but was broadly exported and then imitated all over the Roman Empire.

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

Dimensions L 14.5 x W 8.5 cm

North Africa



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