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 XXVIII


Two discus frr., cats. 355–56, were most likely made in Athens and belong to Broneer type XXVIII. The major Roman lamp production in Athens starts in the third century A.D., under strong influence from Corinthian models, so much so that the earliest Athenian efforts copy characteristic Corinthian types (ray discus with vine rim, or figured discus with ovolo rim; in the beginning they even imitate the light-colored Corinthian clay).

The Athenian lamps remain unglazed into the early fourth century A.D., although the fabric is darker and heavier than the typical Corinthian clay. By the mid-fourth century, however, Athenian lamp production again adopted glazing, which had prevailed during the first and second centuries. Another characteristic hallmark, gradually introduced, is a rich variety of rim-patterns (see Perlzweig 1961, pl. 51). Cats. 355–56 belong to this fourth-century phase. Both frr. feature erotic symplegmata, which are known in numerous copies. Cat. 356 shows one of the copious variations of male-female intercourse; cat. 355 picks up on the Corinthian theme of woman-horse, carried out with numerous varieties both in Corinthian and Athenian productions (see, e.g., Bruneau 1977, pp. 266–67, figs. 10 and 11, from Corinth; or Bailey BM II, p. 410, Q 3271, pl. 119, from Athens). The individualism as well as the interaction between the well-documented Athenian lamp shops (see Perlzweig 1961) allows us—even in the absence of signatures on the Getty frr.—to suggest closeness to some workshops that favored the present subject matters. Pireithos, who specialized in symplegmata, signed an early parallel to cat. 356 (Perlzweig 1961, pp. 47–48). Others continued the subject into the fourth century.

Especially frequent was the combination of this discus with the rim decor used on cat. 355: trefoil and reel, which occurs in a raised version (third century), and a later incised variety, as on cat. 355 (late third into early fourth century, see Perlzweig 1961, p. 23). The lamps are dated to the fourth century A.D.

Banner image: Detail of cat. 355