Centaur Playing the Lyre

By
Michele Asuni
Michele Asuni is a first-year doctoral student in Classics at Johns Hopkins University. Before joining the Classics department in 2012, he completed his undergraduate work at the University of Pisa, where here pursued an interdisciplinary program in Classical Studies. Primarily a Hellenist, his main interests lie in Archaic and Classical Greek literature and culture, textual criticism, and Silver Latin.

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  • Accession Number: JHUAM HT 321
  • Measurements: Length: 9.3cm, Width: 6.6cm Height: 1.9cm
  • Material: Ceramic
  • Culture/Date: Roman, 1st c. BCE-1st c. CE
  • Provenance: Tyre, Syria

This is a mold-made pottery lamp with a volute nozzle. The discus scene features a centaur playing a lyre. The filling hole is beneath the centaur’s hind feet. The lamp had a brown, glossy finish that has largely worn off. On the lamp’s base is an inscription that records the potter’s name: FAVSTI. A Roman reader would have understood this word to mean “from Faustus’ workshop.” _D3M1042webScholars have argued that this lamp maker was active between the end of the Augustan period and the reign of Tiberius. He probably was an itinerant potter who traveled from Italy to Cyprus, Petra (in modern-day Jordan), and then Egypt. This would explain the varied provenance of the more than 80 FAVSTI lamps catalogued by museums around the world. Further examples can be seen at the British Museum (Lamp Q1886) and at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (74.51.2167, 74.51.2169, 74.51.2164, 74.51.2162)