Indiana University Bloomington IU Bloomington IUB

Lamp with Medusa Head

Oil lamps brought light into the interiors of homes and public buildings. The inner cavity held the oil and one end of the wick; the other end of the wick was threaded up through the spout, which supported the flame, as the black discoloration on the spout of this example attests. The snake-haired head of Medusa was regarded as an image that could ward off evil. Therefore, Medusa heads frequently appeared on domestic objects.

Lamp with Medusa Head
Imperial period, 1st–2nd century AD
H. 1 1/2 in. (3.8 cm), L. 5 3/16 in. (13.2 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, 70.60.4