Late RomanEarly Byzantine Bronze Hanging Oil Lamp with Suspension Chain - X.0071.jpg - For Sale

Late RomanEarly Byzantine Bronze Hanging Oil Lamp with Suspension Chain - X.0071.jpg
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While literally thousands of terracotta oil lamps survive from the Roman era, their bronze counterparts are remarkably rare. An average Roman citizen would have had a few fragile terracotta lamps scattered about the house to provide light in the hours of night. Bronze lamps were the domain of the wealthy elite whose villa would have been decorated with durable bronze lamps displayed on elegant stands. Bronze oil lamps were inherently more expensive due to the high cost of refining and casting metal. While luxury items in their own time, bronze lamps were often melted down for their metal value in times of war, only increasing their scarcity today.This gorgeous lamp hangs from three chains attached at the handle and at the join of the spout to the disc-shaped body. The bronze chain is intact, and is highlighted with three thin discs that break up the monotony of the links. In antiquity, the body would have been filled with an oil, be it olive, fish, or castor, whatever was most plentiful in the region, and a wick wound from fiber would have produced a gentle flame at the spout. Although a bit smelly and dirty, such an lamp could burn for up to ten hours in one filling, enough to last through the darkest night. We can picture this lamp illuminating an ancient temple, the light flickering against the columns, throwing shadows onto the ground. However, it is just as likely that this lamp may have hung from a tree in the garden of a Roman villa while a wealthy merchant or officer hosted an evening party. - (X.0071)

Ancient Roman
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Barakat Gallery
405 North Rodeo Drive
Beverly Hills
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