Roman factory oil lamp with hippocampus with a lion’s face

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Description

ITEMFactory oil lamp with hippocampus with a lion’s face
MATERIALTerracotta
CULTURERoman
PERIOD1st – 2nd Century A.D
DIMENSIONS40 mm x 70 mm x 98 mm
CONDITIONGood condition
PROVENANCEEx Emeritus collection (USA), collected from the 1950’s to the 1980’s by a distinguished university professor who served as Department head, Dean and Vice President of a major university.

HIPPOKAMPOI (Hippocamps) were the fish-tailed horses of the sea. They were depicted as composite creatures with the head and fore-parts of a horse and the serpentine-tail of a fish. In mosaic art they were often had green scales and fish-fin manes and appendages.

The ancients believed they were the adult-form of the small fish we call the “sea-horse”. Hippokampoi were the mounts of Nereid nymphs and sea-gods, and Poseidon drove a chariot drawn by two or four of the creatures.

Other fish-tailed land animals which appear in ancient art include the “Leokampos” (fish-tailed lion), “Taurokampos” (fish-tailed bull), “Pardalokampos” (fish-tailed leopard), and “Aigikampos” (fish-tailed goat). The last was the form of the constellation Capricorn. Fabulous creatures of this type were believed to be common in the Indian Ocean (see Ketea Indikoi).