III. Roman-Period Clay Lamps / Types from Eastern Provinces only / Augustan and Imperial Lamps

Loeschcke type VIII, eastern variants


Cat. 522 is characterized by the presence of two double-ended volutes symmetrically placed on the shoulder between discus rim and nozzle. These volutes are not rendered in relief on the sides of the nozzle. Each has two distinct knobs and is not part of the nozzle side. Thus they cannot rightly be called shoulder-volutes, and the lamps of the type under discussion do not fall into Loeschcke type V or Bailey type C. Nevertheless some authors still choose to assign the shoulder-volutes to the latter types: see Hübinger 1993, no. 218, pl. 28, from the second half of the first century A.D.; and Bailey BM II, Q 987–Q 992, pl. 25. However, these Italian lamps, dated A.D. 40–80, have a more elongated body, absent in cat. 522, whose shape is closer to Loeschcke type VIII. Another example of this earlier elongated form comes from Pompeii (Allison 2006, no. 1711, pl. 128, fig. 13).

We have not found any lamps with such volutes among Italic lamps of Loeschcke type VIII in BM II or in the principal Italian catalogues. In fact, even a broader search in all the literature at our disposal has produced only two exceptions. First, there are a few parallels to cat. 522 in Heimerl 2001, especially his lamp no. 226, pl. 6 (identical), with a vertical planta pedis on its base like cat. 522. His lamps nos. 225 and 228 are also very close. These three illustrated lamps are classified as Pergamene products (Heimerl’s groups 8a–9c). Second, there is a near parallel to cat. 522 in Bulgaria (Kuzmanov 1992, p. 73, no. 77). We could even add that the round body of cat. 522, close to Loeschcke type VIII, is not far from the shape of the Alpha-Globules-Lamps from Athens, dated first–second century A.D., even if the shapes of their volutes and handles are different (see Böttger 2002, no. 479, pl. 46). The eastern place of manufacture or origin of cat. 522 is confirmed by its having been purchased in Anatolia.

Cat. 523, likewise purchased in Anatolia, is similarly characterized by the presence of double-volutes. This time they are not applied vertically but symmetrically at some distance from one another on opposite sides of the shoulder. The lamp, with its round body all covered with globules and its short rounded nozzle, belongs to Loeschcke type VIII. It is a well-known Attic production (unglazed, or later, glazed) of the third and fourth centuries, a so-called globule-and-volute lamp. Both the Athenian Agora and the Kerameikos excavations have produced and published many (Perlzweig 1961, pp. 138–39, nos. 1224–1307, pl. 25; Böttger 2002, e.g., nos. 2315–40, pl. 41). Perlzweig’s lamp no. 1225 bears the same base mark as cat. 523: three small rings hanging from a stem. Her lamp no. 1233 shows a base with six similar rings in the form of an inverted triangle. Another such lamp, but with a different base mark (a row of eight globules around a central one), is published by Slane 1990, no. 49, pl. 4; her note p. 18, concerning lamp no. 49, refers to a large group of Attic lamps from a midcentury deposit at Corinth (Williams and Zervos 1983, p. 14, nos. 35–46, pl. 8). The catalogue of Isthmian lamps by Lindros Wohl 2017 has two examples from Isthmia—cat. nos. 268 and 345—close to cat. 523, although their double-volutes do not have the same shape and position on the shoulder.

Oziol publishes a series of Loeschcke type VIII lamps dated second–third century A.D., found in Salamis, Cyprus (Oziol 1977, nos. 546 and 555, pl. 31); they are without handle and have “pseudovolutes” on their shoulders near the nozzle. The author claims this decor is unknown in the western part of the Roman Empire and in Greece and says that they are found in the eastern part only: Antioch-on-the-Orontes, Palmyra, Palestine, Syria, and Lebanon (see Oziol’s refs. p. 184). This is incorrect, as the examples in Perlzweig 1961, pl. 25, testify.

Rosenthal and Sivan publish a series of twenty-one Syro-Palestinian lamps of Loeschcke type VIII, quite similar to Oziol’s series, whose short rounded nozzle is flanked on both sides of the shoulder by typical double-volutes (Rosenthal and Sivan 1978, pp. 85–89, nos. 347–67). Their Syro-Palestinian group can be compared to several Asia Minor ones: group XVI at Tarsus, type VI at Dura Europos, and lamps from Palmyra (refs. p. 85). A few examples of a similar type have been found in Caesarea Maritima, Israel (Sussman 2008, pp. 229–30, a discussion of her type R 20, illustrated p. 270, no. 73, and p. 271, nos. 79–80). These lamps appeared in the second half of the first century but were long lived, for a number have been found in a third-century A.D. context in the necropolis of Beth Shearim. Whether this decor of typical double-volutes was devised by lampmakers in Asia Minor or Attica, and who influenced whom, is not yet possible to determine. But it is worth signaling the use of this decor as anchored in the eastern part of the Mediterranean.

Banner image: Detail of cat. 522