Technology: Catalyst of Social Changes in Iberia

Sala 10. Protohistoria. El mosaico cultural peninsular. Territorio e identidad Pulse para ampliar Sala 10. Protohistoria. El mosaico cultural peninsular. Territorio e identidad

In protohistory, the pre-Roman societies of the Iberian Peninsula were formed thanks to their contact with other peoples, including Phoenicians, Greeks and Central Europeans. The objects on display help us to understand how one technological innovation not only facilitated the imitation and acquisition of certain exclusive pottery vessels reserved for the elite, but also popularised the customs associated with them.

This innovation was the appearance of the potter’s wheel in Iberia. The circular motion of the turntable and manual pressure applied to soft clay made it much easier to shape vessels, such as the wheel-turned jugs with globular bodies and high necks made by Phoenician potters, who brought this new technology to the Iberian Peninsula.

Over time, Iberian potters mastered the use of the wheel. The typical Iberian kalathos, a vessel with a flat rim, straight walls and simple painted decoration, attests to the level of quality that local potters were able to achieve in their own wares thanks to the wheel. The invention allowed them to increase their production and consequently expand their local market.

This process led to the imitation of Greek pottery, such as kraters imported from Athens, decorated with beautiful painted scenes and reserved solely for the Iberian elite, who were buried with them as a sign of distinction. Thanks to the wheel, Iberian potters soon learned how to make undecorated copies of these Greek models, thereby satisfying the desire of the lower classes to emulate their superiors and be buried with similar vessels.