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The lamp fragment in the JHUAM is an example of Arretine ware, a relatively inexpensive and popular ceramic ware that was mass-produced in the Roman city of Arretium, modern-day Arezzo, through the use of terracotta and plaster moulds. The decoration on this fragment shows a man and a woman engaged in sexual intercourse. Moreover, the placement of the hole for the wick, just below the bed, is in itself a visual pun.
The history of erotic depictions includes paintingssculpturephotographsdramatic artsmusic and writings that show scenes of a sexual nature throughout time. They have been created by nearly every civilization, ancient and modern. Early cultures often associated the sexual act with supernatural forces and thus their religion is intertwined with such depictions.
This oil lamp is made after an original from the 1st century AD. It is decorated with an erotic motive. Oil lamps were the main source of artificial light during the Roman Empire and afterwards. They were made in a large diversity.
From Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository. Italiano: Le lucerne romane di I secolo d. English: The Roman lamps of the first century A.
An orange ware oil lamp of medium size. The shoulder is slightly tilted and decorated with diagonal lines. An orange ware oil Terracotta Lamp with Erotic Scene of medium size.