CE/DA00810. Fragment of an octagonal column shaft decorated with medium reliefs. Our account is based on that of Arce (1973), who starts with the description of the peafowl and proceeds counterclockwise.
Face 1. Erect peafowl. The crest forms an inverted trapeze.Both the beak and the legs rest on the line that divides the shaft. The plumage retains an S-shaped incision used to indicate the wing. The tail is indicated by four deep grooves.
Face 2. A bunch of vines coming out of a krater.
Face 3. Two pigeons facing each other, drinking from a krater or chalice.
Face 4. Floral decoration composed of volutes and hanging fruit.
Face 5. Same as that on Face 2.
Face 6. Palm tree with a trunk that widens towards the base. The 15 leaves are symmetrically disposed on either side of the trunk.
Face 7. Same as that on Faces 2 and 5.
Face 8. Peafowl similar to that depicted on Face 1, but facing the opposite direction. Also, this peafowl does not have a crest and the feathers are wider and shorter, which seem to suggest that it is a female.
According to Arce (1973), the use of pairs of peafowls and pigeons facing each other is common. Examples can be found both in the Iberian Peninsula (Villa de Daragoleja, Granada; Salvatierra de Tormes, Salamanca; Sarcophagus of Oviedo, and the ‘brick’ of Cordoba, among others) but also elsewhere (Baptistery of Grado, Italy; Synagogue of Ma`on, Nirim, Gaza, and the Moses Relief in Kaiser Friederich Museum, Berlin). The bunch of vines emerging from a krater is a common motif in the Iberian Peninsula, Italy, North Africa, Syria, etc.
The earliest reference that we have of this column shaft is in the Catálogo Monumental de Jaén, written by Romero de Torres (1915).The Catalogue includes several photographs of the piece and a short description. The shaft belonged to the Folache collection, along with other pieces, mostly of Roman date. According to Romero de Torres, “the pieces were artistically displayed in a garden, which is a charming and picturesque background”. The Folache family owned land in La Guardia, including the archaeological site of Cabeza de La Pila, also known as La Pililla. The chronology of the site dates to between the Early Roman Empire and the Middle Ages. The site is very near Cerro Salido, the location of the necropolis where Item 5 was found.