Collection online


  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Description

    Roman terracotta lamp with a caricatured scene: mould-made lamp with a voluted nozzle, mostly lost. Between the nozzle volutes is an air-slit. The top is decorated with a crocodile; rising from its tail is a huge human phallus on which sits a naked woman with her hair drawn back in a bun. She holds a palm branch in her left hand; behind her plants, probably intended to be Nilotic, rise up. Although made many decades later than than her death, this may be an obscene caricature of Cleopatra VII. The lamp stands on a slightly raised base. Covered with a streaky finger-marked orange-red to dark brown slip.


  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 40-80 (circa)
  • Production place

  • Materials

  • Type series

    • Loeschcke IV
    • Shoulder-form IIIa
  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Length: 9.2 centimetres
    • Width: 7.6 centimetres
  • Curator's comments

    A.W. Franks, 'ms Register of the Museum Secretum', W. 249;
    D.M. Bailey, 'A Catalogue of the Lamps in the British Museum ii, Roman Lamps made in Italy (London 1980), cat. no. Q 900;
    C. M. Johns, 'Sex and Symbol, Erotic Images of Greece and Rome' (London 1982, 1989,1999), 110, fig. 91;
    S. Walker & P. Higgs [eds.], 'Cleopatra of Egypt' (London, 2001), p. 337 [357].


  • Bibliography

    • Walker & Higgs 2001 357 bibliographic details
    • Lamp Q900 bibliographic details
  • Location

    On display: G70/dc3

  • Exhibition history

    2010 Jan - April, Nottingham, Lakeside Arts Centre, The University of Nottingham, 'Roman Sexuality: Images, Myths and Meanings'
    2014 Feb - May, Brading Roman Villa, Isle of Wight, Roman Sexuality: Images, Myths and Meanings

  • Subjects

  • Associated names

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Department

    Greek & Roman Antiquities

  • Registration number


  • Additional IDs

    • W249 (Museum Secretum)
    • Witt.249 (Witt Collection Number)
COMPASS Title: Terracotta lamp with a caricatured scene


COMPASS Title: Terracotta lamp with a caricatured scene

Image description



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Object reference number: GAA30345

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