In late 2012, Buffalo, New York residents Harvey and Deborah Breverman graciously gave to MUAM more than 120 ancient artifacts from their personal collection, including ceramic oil lamps, vessels, figurative pieces and small bronzes. According to the Brevermans, one of the reasons they decided to donate these art objects was to offer broader possibilities for student and faculty research at Miami University.
During the time these lamps were created, oil lamps were a common part of ancient peoples' lives, providing light in homes, taverns, temples and tombs. They were made of clay, and designed to hold oil in the body, and a wick through the spout. Over time, oil lamp production largely shifted from individual production to mass production through the usage of molds. These molds were frequently made of clay, plaster, or a soft stone such as limestone. The lamps would be made in two parts by pressing a layer of clay over the mold. The two pieces would be matched up and fused together, then sent to the kiln. The use of molds allowed for mass production, which was previously not an option. In addition to increased production, molds also provided the opportunity for imitating popular designs by creating molds from lamps created by others. Some lamps feature makers' marks, which are typically stamps of the maker's name placed on the bottom of the lamp.
Includes information from "Oil Lamps in the Ancient World"