The Iberian Tomb of the Northgate Necropolis

Conjunto Arqueológico de Cástulo

In the necropolis of North Gate of Castulo it highlighted the presence of a monumental tomb dated in the fourth century BC, on Iberian period, which had all its grave goods, thus providing valuable information for the understanding of our Heritage.

1. The archaeological excavation
In 2011, on the occasion of the adequacy of road access to the archaeological site of Castulo by Diputación Provincial de Jaén, an archaeological excavation directed by archaeologist Yolanda Jiménez Morillas was able to document several tombs in the necropolis of the North Gate of Castulo.  The tomb is dated to the fourth century B.C. and it is square, with dimensions of 2x2 m, built of large sandstone blocks without mortar binding and are arranged in a staggered insinuating its pyramidal shape.

In the center of tomb the grave goods was, highlighting the presence of a luxurious red-figure krater imported from ancient Greece.

The krater, which contained inside the cremated remains of a person, was next to an urn, a pottery plate, a small ceramic cup and small personal items related to the life of this person: as a ring and several spindle whorls. These pieces were deposited in the same place more than 2,300 years ago.

In the extracting process of grave goods some previous protection performances were necessary that allowed recover the piece avoiding loss and deterioration, and facilitating subsequent restoration work in laboratory.

Once in the laboratory, it is important to perform a series of previous cleaning tastings before boarding any intervention.

These previous tastings help determine the strength of the material, and thus it is possible to assess the products to be used and the method of action most conducive to begin the cleanup phase.

Conservation and Restoration helps us to shed light on the history of the object and also preserve and convey that story to future generations.

2. The funerary trousseau
This Iberian tomb is an important finding, being unchanged, keeping within the full grave goods. The occupation of the necropolis for centuries caused, in many cases, alterations in previous tombs. This Iberian tomb still had to be kept in good condition long after because, beside her, also documented the existence of a Late Roman tomb built eight centuries later respecting this Iberian burial and even keeping the same orientation.

Trade routes through the river Guadalimar allowed the arrival of luxury items such as the Greek craters, used in funeral rites and deposited in tombs as grave goods, although in this case was used to store the ashes of the person cremated.

The main side depicts a scene from griphomachia in which two rampant griffins are fighting versus Arimaspians.

On the back there are a palestra scene, which represent young people dressed in himation.

In the interior of the base of the krater there is a line with Greek characters written probably by the merchant, which can be read ΛΥΧΝΟΙ=ΔΠ (lamps:15), which could indicate that this krater was carrying fifteen lamps for her sale in Castulo.

The ritual used in Iberian time was incineration. After a celebration in honor of the deceased, the body was cremated on a pyre, and then his bones and ashes were introduced into a ceramic urn for later deposit it in a tomb.

In this tomb the urn was covered with a ceramic plate of the same stylistic features, but in other cases have been documented significant other materials for covering, as silver bowls.

This small pottery cup could have been part of the funeral ceremony, finally being deposited as grave goods in the tomb.

In the interments it is common to find objects related to the deceased, especially personal items such as jewelry, that distinguished social status of these people.

In the trouseau it is also common to find objects related with class or profession of the deceased, such as those spindle whorls, which seem to indicate the relationship of the deceased with loom industry.

This archaeological excavation, like those made previously by Dr. José María Blázquez in the necropolis of the North Gate, shows a little more of the History of Castulo and the largest necropolis of the city, with an extension that can be over 50,000 square meters and an occupation for more than eight centuries.

Conjunto Arqueológico de Cástulo
Credits: Story

The Iberian Tomb of the Northgate Necropolis

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Conjunto Arqueológico de Cástulo, Linares (Jaén)
Consejería de Cultura de la Junta de Andalucía

Curated by Francisco Arias de Haro and Marcelo Castro López.
Texts: Francisco Arias de Haro y Marcelo Castro López.
Photography: Jose Manuel Pedrosa Luque, Yolanda Jiménez Morillas, Carmen Repullo Roldán and Francisco Arias de Haro.
Infographic: esTRESd Patrimonio Virtual.
Digital layout: Francisco Arias de Haro.

Archaeological Ensemble of Cástulo.

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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