Lamps, largely due to their simple and efficient nature, were used consistently from Ancient Egypt until the turn of the 14th century CE when the advent of wax and tallow candles lessened their popularity. Lamps are very simple forms of lighting, needing only a container, fuel, and a wick. Fuel was usually olive oil in ancient societies but could also be from other sources. Due to their humble nature, lamp molds, once an effective form had been discovered, remained relatively unchanged for long periods of time. Lamps were originally handmade, then wheel-made, and finally mold-made; though these methods of production co-existed with each other. Additionally, the use of clay for lamp molds would have been common for both Greek and Roman lamps, which adds to the difficulty of dating. However, this terra cotta is orange in appearance and may indicate an Attic provenance. The earliest lamp molds in Greece date to approximately the 3rd c. BCE, which is the advent of mold over wheel, and modest lamp molds remained relatively unchanged through Roman times.
Often there was a two-part mold, composed of an upper and lower section, which were fitted together by the raised pieces and indentations. This is a lower lamp mold, as indicated by the raised lugs on top and the center indent for the handle to be attached to after firing. The clay would be pressed into the mold, allowed to dry to a leather hard condition, then removed and fired; finally, the joint between them was worked over and the horizontal or vertical handle attached. The most common early lamp mold was broad and flat gradually moving toward a narrower, elongated shape. This could support an earlier date for this lamp mold. The top of the lamp could be intricately decorated once the mold-method was utilized. They could then be covered with a humble black glaze or otherwise decorated. -Brittney Johnson