Posted By Hannah Nancy Posted On

Female Ruler Sporting Rare Diadem Unearthed at Bronze Age Palace

Archaeologists from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona have discovered Western Europe’s first Bronze Age palace in Murcia, Spain. The site also holds a unique burial including a probable female ruler who sported her rare silver crown-like object, a diadem, all the way to her grave.

The Bronze Age site was uncovered at La Almoloya in Murcia, Spain in 2014 and the lavish burial has been dated to around 1700 BC. It includes a female, a male, and an assortment of prestigious grave goods that were all placed inside a large jar which was found beneath the floor of a room at what has been called the first Bronze Age palace in Western Europe. The research team believes that the richly adorned woman was a female ruler in the Early Bronze Age El Argar society.

Discovering More About the Woman and the Man in the Jar
An Antiquity press release notes that this burial at La Almoloya is “one of the most lavish Bronze Age graves ever found in Europe.” The jar burial has been radiocarbon dated to the mid-17th century BC, the golden age of Argaric society. It features animal offerings, gold and silver objects of exceptional quality and the remains of a female and a male. The study authors mention in their paper that this grave was so rich that the 230 grams of silver objects alone would have been enough to pay the daily wages of 938 workers at the time!

The remains of the female – aged 25–30 when she died – were also adorned with silver bracelets and rings, along with the diadem, when she was buried.

The male, aged 35–40, was buried wearing a copper bracelet, silver hair fasteners, and golden earlobe plugs. Analysis of their skeletal remains shows traces of cinnabar, which may have been used to dye their clothing or burial shrouds, or was used as body paint.

All of these elements prove that these were elite members of their society, with the female holding particular importance, though her exact role is still a mystery.

View of the interior of the grave, note the diadem on the female skull. (credit: Arqueoecologia Social Mediterrània Research Group, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona/ Antiquity Publications Ltd )

Rihuete Herrada told Ancient Origins that double burials are known at Bronze Age Argaric sites, but only make up around 10-20% of the graves at each site.

The researchers also doubt that sacrifice was involved in this double burial, however Rihuete Herrada says, “When two people are buried together that, of course, can be one of the interpretative options: somebody has died and the other person gets killed to become her/his companion. Of course this killing can be performed by means of poisoning or under untraceable means, but that will be negative evidence.” But, according to Rihuete Herrada, “we have no positive evidence supporting a sacrifice, neither in this period nor in the preceding one.”

When the remains were examined, the researchers discovered that the female suffered from several congenital abnormalities, along with a possible pulmonary infection at the time of her death.