Roman Oil Lamps of the Turnure Collection
Author:Peyton Kendall ’22
Faculty Mentor(s):Kristine Trego, Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies
Funding Source:Douglas K. Candland Undergraduate Research Fund
In 2019, James Turnure, Samuel H. Kress Professor of Art History Emeritus, donated a collection of antiquities to Samek Art Museum at Bucknell University. Among the artifacts donated were seventeen previously unstudied Roman oil lamps, seven of which were selected to serve as the subject of this study. The chief aim of the project was to establish a catalog of the lamps, so as to make them accessible to the archaeological community. To do so, the lamps were individually drawn, described, photographed, and measured. Based on this information, they were then classified according to prevailing typologies, allowing for approximate dating and regional attribution. Following the documentation of the lamps, comparanda, or similar lamps, were identified in a variety of public and private collections. The descriptions, types, and comparanda of the lamps formulated the catalog, thereby creating an archaeologically standardized account of the artifacts. This documentation allows for a greater degree of scholarly access to Samek Art Museum’s holdings, thereby introducing the lamps to the known archaeological corpus. The establishment of the catalog led to the curation of an exhibit of the lamps in Bertrand Library, on display currently. Furthermore, it served as the basis for a senior honors thesis, “Molding Diana: A Critical Analysis and Catalog of a Selection of Lamps from the Turnure Collection,” which investigates modern reception of small finds, the ancient Roman oil lamp industry, and the transmission of iconography throughout the ancient Mediterranean world.