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… that is fluid and complex

Floor 1, Room 11, Showcase 11.17. Grave 155 at Baza
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Looking at the past through the lens of current cultural constructions can lead to inaccurate conclusions.

Grave no. 155 is the main burial site of the Iberian necropolis of Cerro del Santuario in Baza. This grave is famous among archaeologists because within its walls was found the sculpture now before your eyes. It is known as the Lady of Baza, a large anthropomorphic cinerary urn carved in limestone in the first half of the 4th century BC. The grave goods accompanying the Lady, which include a large set of weapons, led researchers to believe that this was the tomb of a man. It was therefore thought to be the burial of a warlord protected by a goddess. Because weapons belong to the male sphere ... or do they?

Physical anthropology analyses applied from the 1980s onwards to the human remains preserved within the sculpture showed that the person buried within was, in fact, a woman. The metal grave goods of the Lady of Baza, laid at her feet as an offering, are now interpreted as the results or reflections of the funeral honours that she would have received, and which would have included warrior fights. This has led researchers to argue that she could have been the founder of an aristocratic lineage who would have been ‘heroised’ by her descendants. This can be seen as a sign of the importance and prominence that women played in Iberian society. The discovery and study of this grave, which had been preserved sealed and with its archaeological context intact, represents a turning point in our knowledge of the history of Iberian women.

Factors such as differences in age, social status, wealth, as well as other more complex factors such as beliefs, models of socialisation or behaviour, identities or affections, can all be reflected in the constitution of the grave goods and offerings. Sex and gender are additional factors, intertwined with all the others.

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