From Prehistoric Times to the Romans

Beaker, Unknown, II Milenio a.n.e. - II Milenio a.n.e., From the collection of: Museo Arqueológico de Córdoba
Prehistoric Córdoba
The area of Córdoba has always been a melting pot of cultures, inhabited since early prehistoric times. Many different peoples have settled there and it has absorbed a wide range of external influences, making it one of the most original parts of the Iberian world. A large number of archaeological sites attest to its dynamism. The city of Córdoba itself is an example of this. It was founded as a Roman colony in the 3rd century BCE. Before then, however, there was a settlement dating back to the Chalcolithic age on the site of one of its current neighborhoods, Parque Cruz Conde, in the place known as Colina de los Quemados. 
Handaxe, Unknown, 250000 a.n.e. - 250000 a.n.e., From the collection of: Museo Arqueológico de Córdoba
From the Paleolithic Era to the Iberians
The evolution from the paleolithic hand ax to Iberian ceramics, made on a potter's wheel, involved spectacular technological advances, as well as a cultural overlap that shaped Córdoba into a place for people and ideas to interact and mix.
Scraper, Unknown, 100000 a.n.e. - 100000 a.n.e, From the collection of: Museo Arqueológico de Córdoba

Humans settled, first temporarily and then permanently, in places that had the resources necessary to ensure their survival. It is for this reason that they chose to settle in places that were rich in vegetation and game. The Guadalquivir River and its tributaries provided these conditions, and became the earliest channels of communication linking the different parts of the surrounding territories. Objects such as this scraper from the Middle Paleolithic Age have been found in the areas around these rivers.

Piece of chert, Unknown, 30000 a.n.e. - 30000 a.n.e., From the collection of: Museo Arqueológico de Córdoba

Mousterian tip carved using the Lellavois technique. Flakes were chipped from a core and would then be worked until they were shaped into the desired tool.

Neolithic glass of Zuheros, Unknown, V Milenio a.n.e - IV Milenio a.n.e., From the collection of: Museo Arqueológico de Córdoba
The Neolithic Age
Together with agriculture and cattle farming, ceramics improved the living conditions of human groups. They were made by hand, and more varied types of containers could be produced that were stronger, waterproof, durable, and fire-resistant. These replaced the ones used previously, which were made from plant-based materials. This object, from the Cueva de los Murciélagos (Bats Cave) in Zuheros, is an example of the province's incised and red ocher ("almagra") ceramics, which are typical of the Mid-Neolithic Age, from around the 5th to the 4th millennium BCE.
Polished store ax, Unknown, 3500 a.n.e. - 3000 a.n.e., From the collection of: Museo Arqueológico de Córdoba

The Neolithic Age saw some decisive changes to the economic base of society, marked by the settlement of small groups of people. Stone Age tools are remarkable for the polishing technique used to make them, which was an improvement on the methods of earlier eras.

Bracelet, Unknown, 4300 a.n.e. - 3980 a.n.e., From the collection of: Museo Arqueológico de Córdoba

Marble bracelet that was among the funerary objects found in a burial ground, discovered at the Neolithic site of the Cueva de los Murciélagos (Bats Cave) in Zuheros.

Punta Palmella, Unknown, 3000 a.n.e. - 2500 a.n.e., From the collection of: Museo Arqueológico de Córdoba
The Chalcolithic Period
The use of copper became more widespread during the 4th and 3rd millennia BCE, coinciding with the creation of larger and more stable settlements, and the growing use of dolmens and bell-beaker ceramics. By this time, there was a certain social hierarchy, and possibly also craftsmen who specialized in metalwork. Arrowheads in this shape are called "Palmela points," and were used with bows or spears for hunting or defense.
Beaker, Unknown, II Milenio a.n.e. - II Milenio a.n.e., From the collection of: Museo Arqueológico de Córdoba

Bell-beaker ceramics, so-called because of their inverted bell shape, appeared during the later stages of the Chalcolithic period (3rd millennium BCE) and continued to be made during the Bronze Age (2nd millennium BCE). They are high-quality ceramics that were widely used across a large geographical area, showing the importance of cross-cultural commercial contact during this part of the prehistoric era.

Beaker, Unknown, II Milenio a.n.e. - II Milenio a.n.e., From the collection of: Museo Arqueológico de Córdoba

Richly decorated with incised geometric bands, the origins of bell-beaker ceramics are unknown. However, their use was widespread across Great Britain, Ireland, the Netherlands, Central Europe, the Iberian Peninsula, Sicily, and North Africa. They were used in funerary as well as domestic contexts.

Halberd, Unknown, 2000 a.n.e. - 1500 a.n.e., From the collection of: Museo Arqueológico de Córdoba
The Bronze Age
In around the 3rd to the 2nd millennium BCE, the use of bronze (an alloy of copper and tin) became more commonplace, leading to the production of stronger utensils. This significant advance in metallurgy led to all kinds of technological and economical advances, and to more complex societies. Trade in these new products and tools grew, leading to developments in communications and urbanization. Villages sprung up in the province, including Llanete de los Moros (Montoro) and Colina de los Quemados—a primitive settlement that would later become the city of Córdoba.
Bronze ax, Unknown, 2500 a.n.e. - 2000 a.n.e., From the collection of: Museo Arqueológico de Córdoba

Items made from bronze have been found throughout the area of Alto Guadalquivir, generally in the graves of distinguished individuals. Weapons, such as this bronze ax, were made using univalve molds into which molten metal was poured.

Crucible, Unknown, 2000 a.n.e. - 1500 a.n.e., From the collection of: Museo Arqueológico de Córdoba

The purpose of this beaker is clear: it was used for melting metal. Many utensils associated with metallurgy and metal mining are from the north of the province, where the mines were located.

Bronze sword, Unknown, 700 a.n.e. - 750 a.n.e., From the collection of: Museo Arqueológico de Córdoba

Bronze sword from Palma del Río. This type of sword is typical of the southwest of the Iberian Peninsula during the third phase of the Atlantic Late Bronze Age, in around 750 BCE.

Maza mining, Unknown, 350 a.n.e. - 300 a.n.e., From the collection of: Museo Arqueológico de Córdoba

Mining hammer from Cerro Muriano in the Cordoban mountains. Copper ore mining in the Sierra Morena dates back to the Chalcolithic Age. Its transportation towards the Mediterranean trade routes was controlled from the settlement of Colina de los Quemados, which was strategically located between the mountains and the Guadalquivir River.

Alabaster, Unknown, 1100 a.n.e. - 1000 a.n.e., From the collection of: Museo Arqueológico de Córdoba

Engraved alabaster beaker of Phoenician origin, whose design was clearly influenced by the "Orientalizing" style.

Stele of Ategua, Unknown, 1000 a.n.e. - 800 a.n.e., From the collection of: Museo Arqueológico de Córdoba
Late Bronze Age: Orientalizing Era
The search for metals opened up new trade routes and intensified relationships between Phoenicians, Greeks, and Carthaginians, whose commercial interests led them to establish colonies from the 9th century BCE onward. This brought them into closer contact with the Iberian people, who adopted the traditions and beliefs of these new cultures. It is possible that the Ategua Stele, which features funerary decoration and is one of the museum's most important objects, was made for a warrior. It is connected to the early relationships between east and west, between the Phoenician and Greek settlers. 
Ivori comb, Unknown, 650 a.n.e. - 600 a.n.e., From the collection of: Museo Arqueológico de Córdoba

Fragment of an ivory comb decorated with an incised image of a horse, with a lotus flower at its feet. Clearly influenced by the "Orientalizing" style, this object comes from the Llanete de los Moros archaeological site in Montoro (Córdoba), and dates from around the 7th to the 6th century BCE.

Glass paste ointment, Unknown, 550 a.n.e. - 500 a.n.e., From the collection of: Museo Arqueológico de Córdoba

Unguentarium made from multicolored "pasta vitrea" (glass paste), which was part of a set of funerary objects found in a grave in the Iberian cemetery of Los Torviscales, in Fuente Tójar (Córdoba). The piece is a result of the commercial relationships established between settlers from the eastern Mediterranean and native Iberians.

Patera ática, Unknown, 250 a.n.e. - 200 a.n.e., From the collection of: Museo Arqueológico de Córdoba

Ceramic bowl of Attic influence, indicative of commercial relationships with people from the eastern Mediterranean.

Fíbula, Unknown, 350 a.n.e. - 300 a.n.e., From the collection of: Museo Arqueológico de Córdoba

Fibula brooch that is part of the Treasure of Los Almadenes (in Alcaracejos, Córdoba). It reveals the importance of goldsmithery in the Iberian Peninsula during the Celtiberian period, between 350 and 300 BCE. The economy at that time allowed for the existence of an aristocratic social class, which demonstrated its social status through jewelry.

Column crátera, Unknown, 250 a.n.e. - 200 a.n.e., From the collection of: Museo Arqueológico de Córdoba
Iberian culture
Contact with settlers (Phoenicians and Greeks) led to the adoption of technical innovations, including use of the potter's wheel. This resulted in ceramic items that were produced to a higher standard, such as this column-krater that imitates Greek design. These new commercial contacts led to transformations in the territory: urban centers appeared or grew out of earlier settlements that were part of the Iberian world. This was the case for pre-Roman Córdoba itself, as well as for other cities such as Iponuba (Baena), Ucubi (Espejo), Epora (Montoro), and the village of El Cerro de la Cruz in Almedinilla.
Ceramic urn, Unknown, 250 a.n.e. - 200 a.n.e., From the collection of: Museo Arqueológico de Córdoba

Iberian cinerary urn with a decorative pattern of stripes and geometric motifs in reddish tones. This type of ceramic decoration is typical of the Iberian era.

Falcata, Unknown, 250 a.n.e. - 200 a.n.e., From the collection of: Museo Arqueológico de Córdoba

Another technical innovation introduced by settlers was ironwork, which would replace the use of bronze. This falcata sword was one of the weapons in the Hispanic panoply. They were not just instruments of war, but also had a strong symbolic significance and were often found among funerary objects. This one is from the Iberian archaeological site of El Cerro de la Cruz (in Almedilla, Córdoba), and dates from around 300 BCE.

Regatón spear, Unknown, 250 a.n.e. - 200 a.n.e., From the collection of: Museo Arqueológico de Córdoba

Iberian iron ferrule to be placed on the handle of a spear.

Lead glans, Unknown, 250 a.n.e. - 200 a.n.e., From the collection of: Museo Arqueológico de Córdoba

Ibero-Roman sling bullet used for hunting small animals and as a weapon of war. The presence of large quantities of weaponry suggests that there was ongoing military conflict during this period.

Iberian dama, Unknown, 27 a.n.e. - 68, From the collection of: Museo Arqueológico de Córdoba

Classical texts and archaeological finds show that Iberian society had a hierarchical structure. At the top were the
ruler and the elite aristocracy of warriors and priests. Then came the middle classes of merchants and craftsmen,
followed by the largest group—farmers—and then the slaves.
This bust reveals the important purpose and function of public representation. It may be a portrait of someone from Hispania Baetica's upper middle class who had
adopted the fashion and style of the Roman court, which was the prevailing custom of the time. Stylistically, it is still
in keeping with the conventions of Iberian statues (frontality and hieratism), while also presenting features which are the result of a fusion of cultures at the beginning of the new era.

Museo Arqueológico de Córdoba
Credits: Story

Organized by
Museo Arqueológico de Córdoba
Consejería de Cultura de la Junta de Andalucía

Curated by Francisca López Garrido
Texts: Francisco J. Morales Salcedo y Francisca López Garrido
Photos: Darío Muñoz Leva
Digital composition: Francisca López Garrido

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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