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FORVM`s Classical Numismatics Discussion Board  |  Antiquities  |  Oil Lamps  |  Topic: Roman Oil Lamp, nozzle on top - Need assistance with ID 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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Author Topic: Roman Oil Lamp, nozzle on top - Need assistance with ID  (Read 417 times)
Skippy S
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« on: March 11, 2019, 01:23:16 pm »

I've recently acquired an oil lamp, from a gentleman who purchased it in Bethlehem in 1987. For those familiar with the time, the availability (and sales of such lamps) and regulations were very thin (they still are).  No provenance is known.

I purchased this lamp, because I was curious about it, (it just seemed off or "different"), but would make a nice addition to my existing collection of period lamps from the Holy Land.

I finally figured out what is "different" about it.  The nozzle is on TOP!  Most discus lamps have the image on the discus with the nozzle facing down (when the image is right side up).  This lamp has the nozzle on top.  I cannot find any other examples of this with gladiator lamps.  

I would love to date this to more than 1st century BCE to 3rd century CE, but if anyone has any additional info, that'd be fantastic.

I like to keep my collection cabinet with nice placards in acrylic displays with info about each piece.

Thanks!

Skippy

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Strobilus2
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« Reply #1 on: March 12, 2019, 07:16:01 pm »

Lamps from the Levant commonly have the discus motif inverted in relation to the nozzle. However, I'm afraid this lamp is almost certainly a modern fake.
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David Knell
Skippy S
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« Reply #2 on: March 14, 2019, 04:30:15 pm »

Quote from: Strobilus2 on March 12, 2019, 07:16:01 pm
Lamps from the Levant commonly have the discus motif inverted in relation to the nozzle. However, I'm afraid this lamp is almost certainly a modern fake.


Yep, after it arrived, and I held it, it just SCREAMED at me that it was a fake.  it'll be an interesting piece for the collection, but the clay is off (it's black clay, not black from being fired in an oxygenless kiln), the lamp is not fired well (I wiped some water on it to see what the deal was with the dirt that was on the outer edge... it looks like the dirt was smeared on soft clay. It's too heavy (my authentic lamps are quite thin, this sucker is a full on beast, there's not enough space in the oil reservoir mouth to insert a wick, and there's absolutely NO calcification on it.  Was a bad purchase, but will still make an interesting piece.


Skippy
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Strobilus2
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« Reply #3 on: March 17, 2019, 04:01:12 pm »

I'm always a little wary of having to tell people their object is a fake so I was relieved to see you already had your doubts.

You raised valid points. Fakes are often smeared with black coatings or dirt to make them look old. The grey finish on the discus is also clearly artificial. Fakes tend to be heavier than real lamps; the walls are frequently thicker at the cost of capacity since they are intended only for display rather than practical use.

I would add that the design of the nozzle is a modern fantasy and the representation of the gladiator is not only not in an ancient artistic style, it betrays ignorance of how real gladiators were dressed.

A huge industry in fake lamps has long thrived in the Middle East, even more so now that legislation on trading in genuine ones has tightened up.

You may find my blog post of interest. It only briefly skims the surface of the topic but the last lamp (Fig.9) shows how convincing some fakes can be,
http://ancient-heritage.blogspot.com/2018/09/how-to-spot-fake-roman-lamps.html
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David Knell
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FORVM`s Classical Numismatics Discussion Board  |  Antiquities  |  Oil Lamps  |  Topic: Roman Oil Lamp, nozzle on top - Need assistance with ID « previous next »
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