Silver patera. Transit to the Afterlife

Patera de Perotito Pulse para ampliar Patera de Perotito. Sala 11, vitrina 11.19

Protohistory: Iberian peoples

This silver plate for ritual use was discovered by chance in Santisteban del Puerto, Jaén, along with various silver ornaments and vessels. These objects were used at banquets, religious ceremonies and other events related to priests or chiefs. Jewels and ornaments were found fragmented and crushed. For this reason, it is assumed that they were buried intentionally as objects with monetary value, despite the fact that the patera’s decorative scheme clearly suggests a funerary significance. All this provides important information about the beliefs of the Iberian people about the death and the afterlife.

The patera was made from a sheet hammered from the back with the aim of enhancing the decoration, between the second half the 3th century B.C. and early the first century B.C. The umbo is dominated by a terrifying wolf’s head whose open jaws are devouring a human head, that of the deceased; the Iberians believed that, in this way, the soul would be transported to the afterlife. This morbid image contrasts with the surrounding scenes of hunting cherubs and centaurs and centaurides holding musical instruments and offerings for the banquet. These images allude to the blessed life of hunting, banqueting, music, wine and mild inebriation that awaited the deceased in the next world. This concept of paradise, as well as the iconography used to depict it, is clearly of Greek origin, which proves that high-ranking Iberians had assimilated foreign beliefs and incorporated them in their own religion by the third century BC.