Some 630 lamps in the J. Paul Getty Museum represent production centers that were active across the ancient Mediterranean world between 800 B.C. and A.D. 800. Notable for their marvelous variety—from simple clay saucers that held just oil and a wick to elaborate figural lighting fixtures in bronze and precious metals—the Getty lamps display a number of unprecedented shapes and decors. Most were made in Roman workshops, which met the ubiquitous need for portable illumination in residences, public spaces, religious sanctuaries, and the grave. The omnipresent oil lamp is a font of popular imagery, illustrating myths, nature, and the activities and entertainments of daily life. Presenting a largely unpublished collection, this extensive catalogue is an invaluable resource for specialists in lychnology, art history, and archaeology alike.

Featuring zoomable images and multiple views of every lamp, an interactive map drawn from the Ancient World Mapping Center, and linked bibliographic references, this open-access, custom catalogue, along with its object data, is available for free online and in multiple formats for download, including PDF, MOBI/Kindle, and EPUB. A paperback reference edition is also available for purchase.

Citation Information


Bussière, Jean, and Birgitta Lindros Wohl. Ancient Lamps in the J. Paul Getty Museum. Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2017.


Bussière, Jean, and Birgitta Lindros Wohl. Ancient Lamps in the J. Paul Getty Museum. J. Paul Getty Museum, 2017, DD MMMM YYYY,

Permanent URL

Revision History

Any revisions or corrections made to this publication after the first edition date will be listed here and in the project repository at, where a more detailed version history is available. The revisions branch of the project repository, when present, will also show any changes currently under consideration but not yet published here.

August 1, 2017

  • First edition

November 21, 2018

  • Reference added to entry 592
  • Minor text corrections and bug fixes


Complete Catalogue

Each of these alternative formats includes the complete catalogue text, the main image for each object, and all the indices.

Catalogue Main Images

Download includes the main image (500px on the longest side) for each of the catalogue objects, free for unrestricted use. Alternate views and larger sizes are available through the Getty’s Open Content program at

Object Data

The object data, available in two formats, includes key information from each of the catalogue objects.

Except where otherwise noted, this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Map backgrounds are from the Ancient World Mapping Center. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 License.

  • Published by the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
  • Getty Publications
  • 1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 500
  • Los Angeles, California 90049-1682
  • Benedicte Gilman, Project Editor
  • Rachel Barth, Assistant Editor
  • Greg Albers, Project Manager
  • Eric Gardner, Designer and Developer
  • Elizabeth Chapin Kahn, Production
  • Gail Acosta and Nick Geller, Digital Assistants
  • Claire L. Lyons, Curatorial Liaison

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

  • Names: J. Paul Getty Museum, author, issuing body. | Bussière, J. (Jean), author. | Wohl, Birgitta, 1934- author.
  • Title: Ancient lamps in the J. Paul Getty Museum / Jean Bussière, Birgitta Lindros Wohl.
  • Description: First edition. | Los Angeles : J. Paul Getty Museum, 2017. | Includes bibliographical references and index.
  • Identifiers: LCCN 2016037209 (print) | LCCN 2016038887 (ebook) | ISBN  9781606065136 (pbk.) | ISBN 9781606065143 (epub) | ISBN 9781606065150  (online)
  • Subjects: LCSH: Lamps, Ancient—Mediterranean Region—Catalogs. | J. Paul  Getty Museum—Catalogs. | Mediterranean Region—Antiquities—Catalogs. |  Lamps—California—Los Angeles—Catalogs.
  • Classification: LCC NK4680 .J2 2017 (print) | LCC NK4680 (ebook) | DDC  749/.63—dc23
  • LC record available at

Drawing by D. M. Bailey, from Bailey BM III, fig. 162: fig. 4

Drawing by Jean Bussière, from Bussière 2000, figs. 44 and 44 bis, by permission of Éditions Monique Mergoil: fig. 3

Drawings by Randy Miyake, Hespenheide Design, © J. Paul Getty Trust: stamps for cats. 45, 66, 67, 192, 222, 255, 369, 370, 371, 386, 476, 502, 523

Drawings by Jean-Claude Rivel: stamps for cats. 39, 70, 94, 104, 137, 166, 175, 176, 188, 191, 200, 219, 228, 231, 236, 243, 254, 258, 283, 286, 289, 291, 294, 297, 315, 342, 364, 365, 367, 372, 373, 374, 377, 378, 387, 389, 391, 392, 394, 395, 398, 421, 440, 500, 501, 517, 535, 543, 545, 549, 551, 572, 600; figs. 1, 2

Courtesy of Birgitta Lindros Wohl: inscription view of cat. 548

Also from Getty Publications