The women of the ruling class were instrumental in the governance of El Argar, a society that flourished in the southeastern Iberian Peninsula between 2200 and 1550 BC. Over the past two centuries of its existence, it has become the first state organization in the western Mediterranean.
These are the conclusions reached by researchers from the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB). They conducted a study to analyze the contents of the princely tomb. And there were two people and a large number of valuable items. The tomb was discovered in 2014 at the archaeological site of La Almoloya in Pliego, Mercia. The remains were found under the floor of the “hall of rulers”
“These exceptional archaeological finds provide insight into the rulers, subjects and symbolic sites of the first state societies that emerged in Europe during the Bronze Age,” says Vicente Lull, one of the research coordinators. It gave archaeologists an idea of the political and economic power of the ruling class in El Argar.
In the burial place, archaeologists have found a large ceramic vessel. It depicts two people: a man between the ages of 35 and 40 and a woman between the ages of 25 and 30. Near them, 30 valuable and prestigious items were found, many of which were made of silver or decorated with precious metals. The peculiarity of the find is that almost all the items belonged to a woman. The most prominent of these was the silver diadem on the woman’s head.
According to genetic analysis carried out at the Max Planck Institute, the people buried in the grave were contemporaries and died at almost the same time. They were not related, but they had a daughter who was found buried next to them. The woman had several congenital anomalies, as well as marks on her ribs that could indicate a lung infection at the time of death. Meanwhile, the man had bone wear and tear, indicating intense physical activity, possibly horseback riding.
According to researchers, the abundance of burial items found in the tombs of women belonging to the elite of El-Argar, in which tiaras are of particular importance, is an indicator of their prominent role in the management of society.
In Argar society, women of the dominant classes were buried with tiaras, and men with a sword and dagger. “Since swords are more effective tools for enhancing political decisions, men in El Argar could have played a rather executive role, even if ideological legitimation, as well as possibly rule, was in the hands of women,” the scholars explain. It seems that the future state was ruled by women, and men followed orders. The findings of the archaeologists are published by the journal Antiquity.
El Argar society flourished from 2200 to 1550 BC in the southeastern Iberian Peninsula (Mercia and Almeria) during the early Bronze Age. It was distinguished by urban centers and monumental structures, a developed division of labor, and political boundaries.
Exploration of the burial at La Almoloya has highlighted the unique archaeological wealth of the site. A privileged strategic position that has helped this society flourish for over six centuries. The diadem found on the head of the princess at La Almoloya is the only one that has survived in Spain.