Background Information• Oil lamps were one of the most common household items of the ancient world.• They were versatile and efficient--could be used indoors, or outdoors, and lasted much longer than a candle.• Ceramic oil lamps have been used throughout the surrounding Mediterranean area since roughly 2000 B.C. • Ceramic was the most common material oil lamps were made of, but it is possible to find oil lamps made of metal.
Lamp Wicks and Oils• Oil lamp wicks were commonly made from plant fibers or linens.• They were fueled with vegetable oils, fish oils, plant oils--especially olive oil, and in some cases even animal fat was used as a burning resource.
How They Were Made• During the earlier times, oil lamps were hand made, but they eventually became a product of a 2 part mould. • One part consisted of the top half and other the bottom half. In places like Northern Africa, the moulds had "notches" that aligned with one another when the pieces were dry to ensure the perfect fit.• Once the initial top and bottom pieces were dry, they were removed and the holes for the wick and oil were pierced by hand.• Lastly, decorations were added. These could range from scenes, gods/goddesses, animals, humans, religious and non-religious practices.
Different Kinds of Oil Lamps• Volute- • Wide discus • Narrow shoulder • No handle • Elaborate decorations• Volute lamps mostly came from Italy during the Early Empire period.
• African Red Slip (T.S. Clara)- • Flat shoulders with a lot of decoration • Small discus • Handle • Decorated in redish-orange glaze. Usually depicted non-religious scenes, Christian reliefs, or Jewish reliefs• Africa Red Slip lamps were exported throughout the Empire, but made during the 4th to 6th centuries A.D.
• Factory Lamps- • Longer nozzle • Undecorated discus • 2 to 3 bumps on the shoulder • Had stamp of its manufacturer on the bottom• Factory lamps were mass produced and also exported throughout the empire from Northern Italy and Southern Gaul during the 1st and 3rd centuries A.D.
Oil Lamps Found at Sanisera• Most commonly found lamps are usually African Red Slip Ware, T.S. Clara, dating from the 4th to 6th century A.D.• The decorations mostly consist of Christian reliefs.
Personal Findings• This is an oil lamp stub that I found while digging at the Roman City.