Roman Pottery Oil Lamp with Hunt Scene

CULTURE / REGION OF ORIGIN: Roman Empire. North Africa
DATE: Mid 4th – Early 5th Century CE
DIMENSIONS: 11.0 cm (4.33 in.) long, 8.0 cm (3.14 in.) wide

DESCRIPTION: Intact. A Roman North African mold made pottery oil lamp formed from very fine grained red clay. The discus is decorated in low relief with a Venator on horseback armed with a spear. While the term Venator literally translates as hunter, this profession was also charged with obtaining live animals for use in public spectacles in the arena. These were hugely popular in Roman North Africa, as evidenced by the many large arenas in cities such as El Djem in Tunisia and Leptis Magna in Libya. The discus has a pair of fill and holes above and below the central scene, and is enclosed by a groove and rim that also enclose the nozzle. The shoulder is covered in a sloping pattern of vertical grooves. The undecorated handle is solid and nearly triangular. The base is defined by a simple low relief circle that continues up the back of the lamp to meet the handle. No maker’s mark. There is a light soot deposit at the wick hole and very minimal pale encrustation in a few recessed areas.

PROVENANCE: Ex Welsh private collection formed between the 1970s and 2008.

PUBLISHED: Bonhams, London, ANTIQUITIES, 29 April, 2009, part of Lot #308, listed and illustrated on Page 175.

COMPARISONS: For a similar type from the same period see the “RomQ Reference Collection” online at

Item #CA-12-206

Price $355.00