The Warrior Vase. Elevation to the status of hero

Vaso de los guerreros Pulse para ampliar Vaso de los guerreros de Archena. Sala 11, vitrina 11.15

Protohistory: Iberian peoplesSalto de línea

The Iberian people were ruled by a military aristocracy united by strong ly relations of dependence. Their exclusive activities were war and hunting. The Iberians attached great importance to the funerary rite of cremation, although the complexity of the ritual depended on the social status of the deceased. If the dead person had been important in life, the funeral pyre was piled high with quality wood and the body was placed on top, dressed for the occasion and accompanied by personal objects. Then the pyre was lit, and while the body was cremated offerings and perfumes were tossed into the flames. Afterwards, the ashes were stored in an urn. The urn was then placed in the tomb. Meanwhile, the dead man’s relatives, friends and clients held a ritual banquet beside the grave.

The kalathos known as the Archena Warrior Vase is an exceptional piece because of the scenes covering its sides. It was wheel-thrown in the second half of the 3rd century and it was used as a cinerary urn for the warrior who commissioned it, which explains why the fighting and hunting scenes seem to glorify the dead man. In them we see a struggle between two foot soldiers armed with spears.. This is followed by a hunting scene in which a rider is chasing two wild boars. The final scene shows a rider poised to strike a foot soldier with his spear, while the latter attempts to protect himself. In each scene, the identity of the hero is obvious: it is the dead man whose ashes were placed inside the kalathos. He is the victor in every episode, all of which have highly symbolic significance related to triumph over death and the warrior’s elevation to the status of hero by virtue of his feats.