Lamp, hollow cast, with plastic decoration in form of seated, cross-legged figure dressed in an unbelted long tunic with slit neck.
The figure’s head and hands and the base of the lamp were separately moulded and do not survive, and the handle at the base of the figure’s back has broken away.
The identity of the figure represented is uncertain, although there have been suggestions that it may represent Silenus (a companion to the Roman god, Bacchus). The lamp probably dates to the 1st century AD, and it may have been an antique or heirloom when it was lost.
Such lamps are exceptionally rare outside major Roman urban and military contexts. It is undoubtedly an import from the Mediterranean and almost certainly from one of the specialist workshops operating in the Naples zone, Corinth or Alexandria. In the nature of its plastic decoration featuring a seated human figure, closest analogies are from a series of clay lamps from Alexandria, also dating to the 1st century AD. These depict ‘genre’ figures inspired by life in the city, including comic actors, schoolmasters and scribes. The figure portrayed would have been made instantly recognisable from what was held in the now lost hands and, probably also from characteristics of the portrait.
Other information & metadata
Site location: Stoke Gifford, South Gloucestershire
Project type: Archaeological excavation
Site type: Rural settlement
Discovery context: Unstratified
An unusual lamp from a recently discovered villa at Stoke Gifford, South Gloucestershire – website article
A newly discovered Roman villa at Stoke Gifford, South Gloucestershire – website story
Stoke Gifford Roman Villa – 3D model collection