This is a Roman moulded terracotta oil lamp, coming from the Central Mediterranean area, either Italy or North Africa. The discus shows floral decoration and has a filling hole.
On the base and side several labels from old collections are attached, the most recent one reading: "Red slipped lamp with original wick. Herodian Period (ca 50 B.C.-150 A.D.). Acquired in Israel."
However, this information is not correct. Wicks were made of organic material and did only survive in the rarest of occasions; apart from that, they were not inserted into the filling hole but into the wick hole in the nozzle.
In reality this lamp contains the corroded remains of a wick pin. Sometimes a pin was inserted into the wick through the filling hole, to hold the wick in place. The pin would prevent the wick from sliding down into the body of the lamp and also served to adjust the wick as it was consumed. Such pins were made from rigid materials like metal, wood or bone.
Mid to late first century C.E.
Length 10 cm.
Dutch private collection, acquired from Arte Primitivo, New York, in 2004; before that John-Platt collection, Daniel M. Friedenberg. Daniel M. Friedenberg was president of John-Platt Enterprises, Inc. and for 35 years also worked as curator for the Jewish Museum in New York; he also was a member of the museum's board.
Intact with some encrustation, surface wear and scratching. Several labels attached underneath and on the side.