Saucer-shaped Oil Lamp

Object: D67
JIAAW, Day Collection

This ceramic oil lamp has a bowl-like shape with a raised center and a rim that has been folded over and pinched to form a place for the wick to rest. Both the interior and exterior of this lamp were glazed with a blue-turquoise color. Today, the lamp’s pigment appears iridescent, evidence of oxidation over time. The chip in the rim and the excess clay on the edge of the central fill hole allude to a missing handle that has been broken off of the lamp. The wick hole appears to have been filled in with clay, raising questions of its functionality. Perhaps this particular lamp was converted into a candlestick at some point.

-Jinette Jimenez ’21, JIAAW Records and Collections Assistant

Learn more about ancient oil lamps and see other examples of saucer-shaped lamps:

Description and History of Oil Lamps

Roman Oil Lamps Defined A lamp is a device that holds and burns fuel, typically oil, as a means of producing light. Although oil lamps have taken on a variety of shapes and sizes throughout history, the basic required components are a wick, fuel, a reservoir for fuel, and an air supply to maintain a flame.

oil-lamp | British Museum

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oil-lamp | British Museum

Description Glazed pottery oil lamp; wheel-made; light-brown clay fabric, covered inside with strips of yellow and light-brown glaze, including splashes of the same glaze on the exterior; open saucer form with a flate base, loop handle and pinched wick-hole. Curator’s comments Cf. W. S.