Antiquities > Oil Lamps

Pigs Snout? Roman oil lamp

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V-drome has accurately identified your lamp: Egyptian 'frog lamp', 2nd to 3rd or 4th centuries AD. (The slightly later dates given for the example in the Budapest museum are based on early speculation and do not agree with modern research.)

I will just add that the mark on the base - the Greek letter alpha (upside-down in your first image of it) - is extremely common on this type of lamp. Its ubiquity suggests that it is generic rather than being restricted to a specific maker or workshop but its significance is currently unknown - perhaps it held a religious or cultic meaning.

I suspect your lamp is probably authentic. The colour of the clay for these lamps varied from pale buff to dark red-brown or grey. The glossy surface may well be the result of a relatively modern varnish or wax - a common treatment for artefacts in Victorian times, applied in the misinformed belief that it made them more attractive and helped to preserve them.

There are one or two examples of the general type included on my website:

Evening Dave, thank you very much for your reply and all of the information contained within it. I have just had a quick look at your website and it's fantastic when I get a bit more time over the coming days I shall look through it in more detail. I fear that alongside the Roman coin bug I may now have been bitten by the lamp bug to some of them are stunning. Do you have any advice as to where is best to buy etc? Thanks again and have a great week. Stuart

Thanks from me as well, Dave.  I't's nice to know that when I go out on a limb you are there with a net if it breaks!


Just a quick thank you again to you V-drome for such a speedy and informative reply :) have a good week guys Stuart


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