Lady of Elche

Dama de Elche Pulse para ampliar Dama de Elche. Sala 13, Vitrina 13.1

The importance of the Iberian woman

This sculpture has been famous ever since it was discovered by chance at La Alcudia in Elche (Alicante), in a secret niche made of stone slabs adjoining the outer wall of the ancient Iberian city of Illici. Possibly the work of a sculptor who hailed from Greece or had trained in Greek workshops, it depicts a richly garbed woman with very beautiful, idealised features. Her elaborate headdress includes large metal coils, a tiara, a veil and a beaded diadem. Her attire consists of a cloak, toga and tunic, and she is wearing three necklaces, probably made of gold. There is no general consensus on the purpose of the hollow in her back, or on the piece’s dating, sculptural composition and identity. Consequently, we cannot say for certain whether it was used as a cinerary urn or a reliquary, if it was made in the late fifth century BC or shortly afterwards, or if it was originally a bust or a full-length sculpture whose lower half was cut off. Scholars also have doubts as to whether it represents a goddess, a priestess or a bride wearing her dowry jewellery, although today the most widely accepted theory is that it depicts a female aristocrat who had been deified by her ancestors.