II. Greek and Hellenistic Clay Lamps / Wheelmade Lamps

Undetermined Hellenistic types


These are forms of lamps that we have not found among the typologies in the specialized lamp literature at our disposal. In some cases, however, the forms are more or less related to known types.

Cat. 21 is characterized by a rather low convex reservoir with curved sides, a flat shoulder, and a large filling-hole surrounded by an edge. It has a short rounded nozzle and a high vertical band handle. Close parallels are found in Bailey BM I, Q 696, pl. 128, and Lyon-Caen and Hoff 1986, p. 33, no. 28. Both authors point out some similarity between those lamps and the Apulian type soon to be developed in Southern Italy. The common feature is the high vertical handle and the edge around the large filling-hole. However, as Lyon-Caen observes, the handle on an Apulian lamp is attached at the rear of the body at one point only, which, she says, is an exclusive feature of the Apulian type. This is not the case with cat. 21, whose handle is attached to the reservoir at two points. We will nevertheless give it Bailey’s date for BM I, Q 696: second half of the fifth or first half of the fourth century B.C. We must stress that the fastening of a handle at one point only is not an exclusive feature of Apulian lamps, as Lyon-Caen says; see, for example, cat. 166, of Loeschcke type IV.

Cat. 22 has a rather low basin with curved sides and a flat shoulder with a circular edge around a large filling-hole. Its high vertical ring handle attached to the body at one point only might suggest some relation to the Apulian type, but its round-ended nozzle does not have the slim elongated silhouette nor the anvil-shaped end of Apulian lamps; its shoulder is flat instead of rounded; and its top and nozzle are edged. Might the particular attachment of the handle to the body just be a lingering feature on a post-Apulian lamp? We must notice too that a continuous raised edge surrounding both the top of the lamp and the nozzle area, as seen on cat. 22, is not unusual on molded Hellenistic lamps (Howland types 39 and 52; or Bruneau 1965, nos. 2127–65, 2071–74, 2082, 2086, 2092–96, 2127–65), some still produced in the third century B.C.

Bailey Q 124, from the Crimea, has the same squat, juglike profile and apparently the same nozzle profile as cat. 23 (Bailey BM I, Q 124, pl. 25). The only difference is its flaring collar, which is not vertical as on cat. 23. But Bailey supposes Q 124–Q 126 to be a development from lamps Q 121–Q 123, whose raised vertical rim is pulled out into a flaring collar. Moreover Bailey’s description of the clay of these lamps fits the Getty lamp: “a coarse brick-red clay with white grits and a few flecks of mica [ . . . ] with a grey surface over all.” Bailey dates Q 124 to the second century B.C.

Cat. 25 is a rare hybrid form, possibly derived from an older globular type, Howland 25 B, but here equipped with a triangular nozzle. Such a nozzle form appears for the first time in Howland type 37 A and B (Howland 1958, no. 500, pl. 44), dated from the late second century B.C. into the beginning of first century B.C. Heimerl dates a close parallel (without side-lug) to the third century B.C. (Heimerl 1995, no. 3, pl. 18). The triangular nozzle form became popular on the earliest “Ephesus lamps,” which are dated to the second century B.C. Taking into account these facts, we will suggest a third- to second-century B.C. date.

If cat. 26 is related to the Kragenlampen type, as two close parallels seem to indicate (Zimmer and Furtwängler 2003, nos. b.42 and g.42, pl. 5), it can be dated from the second to the first century B.C.

Not much can be said about cat. 24 except that the following features point to a Hellenistic artifact: the high biconvex body, long tapering rounded nozzle, strap handle, and sunken flat discus pierced by a large filling-hole. Heres classifies a similar example in his group 7 (Heres 1969, p. 31, no. 58, pl. 6, dated to the Hellenistic period).

Because of its fragmented condition, it is difficult to determine the type of cat. 27. Is it an Attic lamp with the classic black shining glaze, or is it a South Italian lamp made of Campanian A? The fragment came to the Getty Museum as part of a large group of 450 South Italian votive heads and figures, loom weights, and molds, as well as Attic red-figure, South Italian, and Gnathia pottery sherds, dating mainly to the fourth century B.C.

Banner image: Detail of cat. 26