Catalogue of ancient oil lamps by the Alte Roemer Gallery

On the following pages, you will find various information on ancient oil lamps from all epochs and regions, be it the most classical Roman Imperial volute pieces or oil lamps from remote Roman provinces such as Syria and Israel. You will, however, also encounter much older pieces, beginning with Canaanite bowl lamps, as well as later lamps from the era of the Muslim conquests.

But, to begin with: why does the world need one more work on ancient oil lamps, a topic popular in scientific writings for decades that looks back on a vast amount of great dedicated volumes concentrating on Mediterranean pottery. Most prominent examples are the first systematic works by Bailey [1] and Loeschke [2], as well as other pioneering works that have become must-haves. Other, more modern works focus on newer archeological findings and/or more narrow subfields [3,4]. The existing literature can be broadly subdivided into museum catalogues, academic volumes and catalogues of large private collections. To the best of our knowledge, however, up to now there is no comprehensive and freely accessible online catalogue that could facilitate literature research, as already known and favored in other fields (e.g. the online project of the Corpus Vasorum Antiquorum). Concerning ancient oil lamps, two examples worth mentioning are an excerpt from the Adler collection available online as well as the highly recommended catalogue by David Knell, both in English. The online catalogue presented on the following pages is, to our knowledge, the only one also available in German. This, along with the useful advanced search features that enable and facilitate research, is the main motivation for the Alte Roemer Gallery Ancient Oil Lamp Catalogue Project.

The thematic focus of the collection on display is Roman and Byzantine oil lamps. All shown lamps have been or are currently part of the selection of the Alte Roemer Gallery. It goes without saying that the presented catalogue cannot and does not aspire to the same breadth and scientific rigor that the established scientific academic publications are known for. We, however, hope that with our project we can facilitate and abbreviate your internet-based research, providing detailed pictures and dimensions of every lamp as well as references to the corresponding scientific works.

We hope you enjoy browsing our catalogue

Your Alte Roemer team

[1] D.M. Bailey, A Catalogue of Lamps in the British Museum, British Museum, 1975-96 in four volumes.

[2] Siegfried Loeschcke, Lampen aus Vindonissa, Zurich, 1919.

[3] Karin Goethert, Römische Lampen und Leuchter, Auswahlkatalog des Rheinischen Landesmuseums Trier, Trier, 1997.

[4] Joan Goodnick Westenholz, Let There Be Light: Oil-lamps from the Holy Land, Bible Lands Museum, 2004.