Roman North African Lamp (1)


Roman North African Lamp (1)


Roman North African Clay Lamp


Roman lamps, derived from Hellenistic prototypes, are closed lamps which were typically topped with a concave disk. On one end lies the handle, and the other side features a spout, with an open mouth, where the wick sits. These types of lamps allow for a better containment of oil, and a more efficient burning rate than open lamps. The wick, made from materials such as oakum, papyrus and linen, would sit in the mouth of the lamp, and ran all the way down the base. The fuel would most likely have been made from olive oil and/or animal fat. On average, these lamps would produce a flame for 50-70 minutes.

This lamp is a Roman North African lamp, a type that was distributed widely throughout the Mediterranean, and found in many places, with the greatest number in Carthage. Typically, these lamps have relief decoration on the discus, with relief patterns below either a pierced or a stump-handle. This specific Roman lamp has a pinky-buff colour, and has an impressed line pattern on the discus. Its base is outlined with two circles, and may contain a signature. It also has evidence of use with burn marks in its spout and the spout is slightly broken. There are two holes in the middle and a moulded design of radiating lines around the circumference. The base is outlined with two incised circles and may have a signature.


From Stone to Screen


North Africa


From Stone to Screen




Emma Ramsden (Research and Content)
David Assaf (Web Design)
Jessica Matteazzi (Photography)
Chelsea Gardner (Collection Curator)




Djuric, S. (1995). Ancient Lamps from the Mediterranean. North York: Eika Bookselling & Publishing.

Elrasheedy, A. & D. Schindler (2015). Illuminating the Past: Exploring the Function of Ancient Lamps. Near Eastern Archaeology 78. 36-42.

Pereira, C. (2014). Roman Lamps of Scallabis (Santarém, Portugal). British Archaeological Reports International Series 2627. Oxford: Information Press.

Rosenthal, R. & R. Sivan (1978). Ancient Lamps in the Schloessinger Collection. Jerusalem: “Ahva” Press.

Additional Reading:

Bailey, D.M. (1996). A Catalogue of the Lamps in the British Museum (vol. 4): Lamps of Metal and Stone, and Lampstands. London: British Museum Press.

Bailey, D.M. (1972). Greek and Roman Pottery Lamps. London: British Museum Press.

Perlzweig, J. (1961). Lamps of the Roman Period: First to Seventh Century After Christ. Germany: J.J. Augustin Gluckstadt

Szentléleky, T. (1969). Ancient Lamps. transl. by A. Debreceni. Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó.

Zhuravlev, D. ed. (2002). Fire, Light and Light Equipment in the Graeco-Roman World. British Archaeological Reports International Series 1019. Oxford: The Basingstoke Press.


Ceramic - Terracotta


Ceramic Lamp


Roman Lamp


Roman North Africa; Ceramic Technology; Roman Lamps

Original Format

Ceramic Lamp

Physical Dimensions

11.1 cm x 5.7 cm




From Stone to Screen, “Roman North African Lamp (1),” UBC CNERS Artifact Collections, accessed July 16, 2018,