Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Liberal Studies


Elizabeth Macaulay

Subject Categories

Ancient History, Greek and Roman through Late Antiquity | Ceramic Arts | Classical Archaeology and Art History | Classical Literature and Philology | Geochemistry | Geology | Physical Chemistry


Terracotta lamps, known to the Romans as lucernae, are small, handheld, often decorated objects which provided ancient people light. To modern researchers, they serve as tools for dating stratigraphy and iconographic studies. Beyond their immediately apparent aesthetic and symbolic value, the chemical compositions of the clay of these lamps reflect their origin. This study complements archaeological typologies with chemometric analyses to describe 16 Late Republican and Imperial Roman lamps recovered from the villa at Poggio del Molino (PdM), Tuscany. These finds were recovered from the 2021 and 2022 PdM excavations. The combined approach of typology with X-ray Diffraction (XRD) and Inductively Coupled Plasma Optical Emission Spectrometry (ICP) analysis offers an objective provenance study of these objects. This chemometric technique allows for the characterization of fragments too damaged for traditional identification methods. Each sample in this catalog received a typological categorization to establish each lamp’s form and approximate date and origin. Then, XRD and ICP analysis determined each lamp’s chemical composition. Characterizing the composition of each lamp by its unique element ratios and region-specific mineral compositions allows for identifying potential regions of origin for each lamp. This study determines regions of origin by referencing the publicly available Mindat Database (Mindat). This study contributes to understanding the networks of people who moved lamps and, by extension, culture and ideas through the Roman Mediterranean.