A Curious Artifact: The Changing Meaning of the Roman Oil Lamp from 17th-Century Jamestown, Virginia | July 2022 (126.3)

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In 2006, a Roman oil lamp was scientifically excavated at Jamestown, Virginia, the earliest permanent English settlement in the Americas. This study explores why a 17th-century traveler would bring this ancient lighting vessel to the settlement and how its unusual double depositional history allows us to trace its changing meaning over time. It further demonstrates that the Jamestown lamp is the type of object that appealed to British and European nobility as a curiosity based on the inclusion of Roman lamps in still life paintings, collections, catalogues, and inventories.

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