II. Greek and Hellenistic Clay Lamps / Moldmade Lamps

Asia Minor Hellenistic lamps with two side-lugs


Eight Hellenistic lamps from the Getty collection have side-lugs of four different shapes: knucklebone shape for cat. 46; wide rectangular shape for cats. 47 and 48, narrow ones for cats. 49–51; and a conical form imitating a heart-shaped leaf for cats. 44 and 45. All those lamps have a biconvex body. Apart from this characteristic, they keep most of the distinctive features of “Ephesus lamps”: 1) wide oval or nearly circular termination of the nozzle, bordered by a flat band (or plate); 2) looped ribbon handle divided into two or more bands; 3) medium-sized central filling-hole (smaller in cat. 49); 4) slightly depressed discus, usually flat and decorated with rings and grooves, sometimes pierced by small holes to drain spilled oil; 5) shoulder decors of floral garlands, radial fluting, and egg-and-tongue pattern; 6) masks on the nozzle neck; and 7) two large single volutes, in the case of cat. 46. Most of these lamps have the same gray clay with gray or black slip seen on “Ephesus lamps.” None of the lamps classified by Howland in his type 49 A as Ephesus lamps has side-lugs (Howland 1958, pl. 49). Some lamps from Delos do have lugs, but Bruneau does not classify them among his type VII “Ephesus lamps” groups I to XI (Bruneau 1965, p. 53). He assigns some to his chapter 11, Groupe des lampes à réflecteurs et oreilles latérales, although some lamps in this chapter actually have no reflector shields (e.g., nos. 4216–17 and 4223). Bruneau groups various other lamps with side-lugs (his series 3 and 5) in chapter 12, Lampes moulées à un seul bec de types divers. Some of the lamps in his chapter 11 (e.g., nos. 4210–16 and 4219) and the series 5 in chapter 12 (e.g., nos. 4324–32) are actually Pergamene Herzblätterlampen. Bruneau considers their Pergamene origin (pp. 90–91 in the chapter Origine et chronologie, and on p. 96 the Pergamene parallel given to lamp no. 4328), but given the state of knowledge in the 1960s, he could not clearly distinguish the so-called Ephesus-type lamps from the Pergamene types, among them the Herzblätterlampen.

According to Schäfer, Pergamene workshops developed the molding technique in the beginning of the third century B.C. and soon produced lamps with a wide range of molded decors (Schäfer 1968, pp. 151–52). But no lamps with those typical Pergamene relief decors are attested in Athens in the mid-third century. Such lamps—to which the Herzblätterlampen group belongs—were derived from metal models, produced earlier in the third century. In the second century B.C. the Herzblätterlampen were broadly distributed, as finds in Priene and Delos attest. In the same century, probably in the second quarter, production of other “Ephesus lamps” began in Asia Minor. The Pergamene workshops participated in this production, if not from the beginning, at least all during the second century. Then the type evolved into various Late Hellenistic lamps with a large flat discus and a small undecorated shoulder, from which were derived the Late Republican examples and ultimately the Augustan volute-nozzle lamps of Loeschcke type I.

Two Getty lamps—cats. 44 and 45—belong to Schäfer’s Pergamene Herzblätterlampen type. The other Getty lamps, with different side-lugs, present much similarity to both “Ephesus lamps” and Herzblätterlampen. With the present state of knowledge they will be classified under the heading “Asia Minor lamps with two side lugs” without further precision. Heres does the same when he attributes his first group only to the Ephesos-Typ and calls his groups 2 to 5 kleinasiatisch (Asia Minor type, Heres 1969, pp. 45–55). Among the very few known places of manufacture or origin in Heres’s groups 2 to 5 are Smyrna (nos. 124 and 168) and Pergamon (nos. 123, 125, 147–48). He dates these Asia Minor lamps to a period between the end of the second century B.C. and the beginning of the first century A.D.

Banner image: Detail of cat. 51