Naukratis: Greeks in Egypt

Alexandra Villing, Marianne Bergeron, Giorgos Bourogiannis, Alan Johnston, François Leclère, Aurélia Masson and Ross Thomas

With Daniel von Recklinghausen, Jeffrey Spencer, Valerie Smallwood, Virginia Webb and Susan Woodford

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Supported by

The Leverhulme Trust
  • The Shelby White - Leon Levy Program for Archaeological Publications
  • Christian Levett and the Mougins Museum of Classical Art
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Lamps in terracotta and bronze


Ross Iain Thomas

Of the lighting equipment known from Naukratis, oil lamps are best represented with over 330 pieces known to have come from the site. The assemblage allows us to trace the changing uses of lamps within Egyptian and Greek societies over time. In the New Kingdom, olive oil was an commodity imported by the elite, but by the Roman period castor, sesame, linseed and olive oil were widely available for use in lamps. This chapter discusses the production and use of these utilitarian objects that also held important religious and ritual meaning, which can be discovered from the deposition practices reflected in the archaeological context.

Mould-made black-slipped Egyptian ‘head lamp’, with depiction of Harpokrates, c. 100–1 BC. Egyptian Museum, Cairo, JE27198. Photography © Egyptian Museum, Cairo