Terracotta oil lamps were abundantly used in Roman households and were a fixture of everyday life. They were typically mold-made and mass-produced, with widespread evidence of maker's marks and factory production. Romans introduced lamps into Gaul; many lamps made in Gaul after the Roman conquest were "franchised" from producers originating in northern Italy. In the early Imperial period, cheap mass-produced lamps sold for about one As (one-sixteenth of a denarius, or small silver coin), about one-tenth of a soldier's pay for one day.
Some lamps, such as this double-beaked example displayed at the Musée archéologique de Nice-Cimiez, were more elaborate in both form and the decoration on the medallion or top. Here the god Jupiter is seen behind an eagle, symbol of Roman military supremacy.
[Fig.1: Terracotta lamp with Jupiter and eagle (Musée archéologique de Nice-Cimiez; photo: Athena Review).]
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