III. Roman-Period Clay Lamps

Miscellaneous Lamps from Asia Minor


None of the six lamps cats. 552–57 has an identical parallel in the literature at our disposal; three have close or near parallels in Bailey BM III (cats. 552–54, from Asia Minor). The types of the other three have so far not been recorded in major lamp catalogues. Several features attest to the eastern origin of the Getty lamps, purchased in Asia Minor: first, the peculiar shapes of their body, low rounded (cats. 552–53), squat and deeply carinated (cat. 554), or deep biconvex (cats. 555–57); second, the unusual shape of their nozzle, upturned (cats. 552, 554–56), tubular (cats. 552–54), with a peculiar oval wick-hole (cats. 552–53), and most times surrounded by a flat rim (cats. 552–56); third, the large diameter of their filling-hole (cats. 552–54, 556); and, last, the color of their clay and glaze—red orange or brown—often seen on lamps from Asia Minor.

Cats. 555–56 have what could be called residual volutes placed near the nozzle, only on the lower part of the basin. On Italic and African lamps, nozzle volutes with well-marked knobs—a characteristic of Loeschcke types I, III, IV, and V (semivolutes)—are exceptional on lamps of Loeschcke type VIII. The presence on cats. 555–56 of these odd side-volutes, together with the special shape of their upturned nozzles, has prevented us from classifying these two lamps among our section 43, eastern variants of Loeschcke type VIII.

The date of these odd eastern Mediterranean lamps without known archaeological contexts is problematic. Taking into account the chronology assigned to the three near-parallels found in Bailey BM III, a date in the second century A.D. for cats. 552–56 seems possible. Based on its Christian Greek inscription, cat. 557 can be dated fourth–sixth century A.D.

Banner image: Detail of cat. 554