III. Roman-Period Clay Lamps / Types from both Western and Eastern Provinces of the Roman Empire / Augustan and Imperial Lamps / Loeschcke type VIII / Lamps with round-tipped nozzle / Eastern lamps

Broneer type XXVII C and D


These lamps are closely related to Greek mainland manufacture of the Roman period. All are variations of Broneer type XXVII, the delicate, unglazed lamp type emerging in Corinth from ca. A.D. 100 on (Broneer 1930). The type is characterized by a flat rim, mostly, but not always, decorated with ovolos or vines; kite-shaped nozzle; and slim, grooved, punctured handle. The lamps almost always have an incuse name of a maker or shop on the base marked off by one groove. Broneer divided this type into four (later five) subcategories, based on iconography. These categories initially implied consecutive, chronological value, but have since been modified (Slane 1990, p. 13).

These delicate lamps were exported widely and copied extensively with some variations. This is where the Getty lamps fit in: in fact, none was made in Corinth, as suggested both by their formal deviations and by their clay, which is far from the typical, Corinthian pale color. But all betray a close iconographic and formal dependence. Cats. 349–50 are imitations of the more elegant versions of Broneer type XXVII D, the so-called Channel-and-panel lamp (which itself has clear links to Italic predecessors, including Firmalampen). However, while maintaining the general rim form and panels, these two lamps lack the channel on the rim (which gave name to Broneer’s category); the nozzle is modified; the bowls are too deep for Corinthian standards; and, instead of a name signature on the base, both lamps have a planta pedis.

The three masks, evenly distributed over the plain surface between rim and filling-hole, occur frequently on Corinthian lamps, with some variations of the facial types; the same is the case with the two Getty lamps. Hübinger presents a close parallel (Hübinger 1993, p. 118, no. 219, pl. 28, with much useful comparanda, including from Corinth itself). His example carries incised circles flanking nozzle and handle, which strengthens the suggested place of manufacture or origin of Asia Minor. Although the circles are absent on the Getty lamps, we assign them to the same location of origin. Hübinger’s parallel is glazed, like the Getty examples, a condition occurring only rarely on very Late Corinthian lamps of type XXVII (although found on early Italian predecessors of type XXVII D, e.g., Bailey BM II, p. 335, Q 1326, pl. 72, ca. A.D. 90–130; or on north African lamps, which occasionally have the same discus decor, e.g., Bussière 2000, p. 336, pl. 73, type D III, also predating the Corinthian lamps).

Cat. 351 is a less well-made, worn version of the same original idea; cat. 352, however, has deviated to hybrid status with modifications of the nozzle; the upper half of the rim has a crude vine-and-grape decor, the masks are unclear, and the base consists of two widely spaced grooves encircling a large planta pedis.

The two remaining lamps—cats. 351 and 354—are derived from Broneer type XXVII C (a large category with figured discus, ovolo rim, and side panels). Although adhering more closely to formal Corinthian norms than cats. 349–51 (by their general proportions, kite-shaped nozzle, ovolo rim, and panels), cats. 353–54 have solid handles and lack signatures. Erotic iconography in great variety was very common on this variant.

The date of this Getty group need not be very far from the exported originals that provided the models: second half of the second century A.D. The fact that the handle bottom on either lamp fails to reach the base-ring indicates that the model used was early in the Corinthian development.

Banner image: Detail of cat. 349