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17. ROMAN OIL LAMP

A small roman oil lamp. Cream fabric with decoration to the tondo.

I cannot accurately identify the imagery on this lamp, but have tried to hightlight it in the photos. It is either an erotic scene or perhaps the god Serapis? Over to you!

Ceramic oil lamps were once common items used throughout the Mediterranean area from 2000 B.C. onwards. Their main use was for domestic light.

Oil lamps worked by burning oil, usually a plant oil such as olive oil. The oil was poured into the lamp though a filling hole on top of the body. When the wick was lit, a small flame was emitted at the nozzle. Most lamps were portable and could be carried in a person's hand.

Erotic scenes or images of gods are often found on Roman oil lamps. Today there is a huge variety of these antiquities for sale to lamp collectors.


Condition: Good.

Dimensions: 7.3 x 6 cms.

Provenance: Ex. private collection, UK; acquired at UK auction house.

Price: £45.00

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