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.
The gladiator depicted is clearly identifiable as a ‘hoplomachus’, from the clothing and weapons portrayed. He is seen holding a rounded, concave shield in one hand and a long spear in the other. Heavily armoured, he wears a crested helmet, greaves that reach to his knees and an arm protector known as a ‘manica’. A loincloth, or ‘subligaculum’ completes the ensemble, as his chest and feet remain bare. The ‘hoplomachus’ was styled on a Greek hoplite, who were known to carry circular shields and heavy armour. This gladiator was often pitted against the ‘murmillo’, who was styled on a Roman soldier.
To discover more about the ancient origins of oil lamps, visit our relevant post: Oil Lamps in Antiquity.