III. Roman-Period Clay Lamps / Types from both Western and Eastern Provinces of the Roman Empire

Augustan and Imperial Lamps

The lamps of Loeschcke type I, mostly without handle, are characterized by a circular body and fairly wide nozzle with obtuse-angle tip, flanked by two volutes. This latter major feature was already anticipated in the Republican Ricci-Dressel type 3 A lamps. Cat. 73, dated 50 B.C. to A.D. 10, clearly shows the evolution of Hellenistic types into the voluted Italian type Loeschcke I. Created in the Early Augustan period, the type lasted until the end of the Flavian period. It is already scarce in the eruption layer in Pompeii. Within the type one can trace several signs of an early date: smaller nozzle, deep body, thin wall, narrow shoulder, closely spaced rills encircling the discus, a tapering channel between the discus and the nozzle, and a slightly raised base-ring instead of a flat base marked off by one circular groove; this is a common feature on later examples, as is the occasional presence of a handle.

Loeschcke created three divisions for his type I (I A, I B, I C), taking into account the size and shape of the nozzle and the angle made by two ideal straight lines joining the volute spines to the nozzle tip angles (fig. 1). These subdivisions follow more or less a chronological sequence. Goethert-Polaschek has rightly added an intermediary nozzle shape B/C, whose two lines are often nearly parallel (Goethert-Polaschek 1985, p. 16, fig. 7). This distinction is not found in Bailey BM II, which was published earlier.

Fig 01
Fig. 1. Loeschcke I nozzle forms, including Goethert-Polaschek variant B/C. Drawing by Jean-Claude Rivel, adapted from Loeschcke 1919, fig. 1, p. 213.

We adopt Goethert-Polaschek’s revised classification (fig. 2) as well as her revision of Loeschcke’s shoulder forms (Goethert-Polaschek 1985, p. 16, fig. 8). We will also refer to Bailey’s type A ( = Loeschcke type I), which is divided into six groups (Bailey BM II, pp. 126–52).

Loeschcke type I, first developed in Italy, became extremely popular and was diffused to all parts of the Roman Empire through either export or local imitation.

Information about the place of manufacture or origin of the lamps is sometimes missing, but out of seventy-one lamps in the Getty collection of Loeschcke type I, thirty-seven most probably have an eastern place of manufacture or origin, thirty-four an Italic or African one. The places of manufacture or origin indicated in the catalogue entries are those given by the collectors, chiefly Schüller (see also Index of Donors and Vendors).

Because the Getty lamps lack archaeological context information, the dates given follow those of other publications, mainly Bailey BM II.

Fig 02
Fig. 2. Loeschcke shoulder forms, including Goethert-Polaschek variants. Drawing by Jean-Claude Rivel, adapted from Loeschcke 1919, fig. 2, p. 213.