Rare example of a silver Iberian bracelet. The shape is of a broken circle and the silver is of considerable thickness. Each end of the circle is decorated with a wolf’s head. The animal appears aggressive, with its mouth open and showing its teeth. The pointed ears of the canis lupus can be made out quite clearly. The Iberian civilization, creative, advanced and far from primitive, developed between the 6th and the 1st Century BC. From Andalusia to Languedoc the strip of the peninsula that ran along the Mediterranean was the cradle of this society which was organized in a hierarchy in cities and which negotiated with Greeks and Phoenicians. The Iberians developed their own art with oriental influences and a rich material culture. Among the most characteristic pieces of the Iberian religious culture are the votive offerings. These are small figurines no bigger than twenty five centimetres in height and which the Iberian aristocracy offered to the gods. Most of them come from cave sanctuaries in the Sierra Morena, Despeñaperros and Castellar. Most are made from bronze using the lost wax technique, but there are also pieces made from limestone and terracotta which reflect different social groupings. But there are no examples of statues of artisans or farmers. The figures are usually represented in a pose of making an offering or of prayer, and with the feet bare. Male nudes sometimes appear carrying arms, with an erect sexual member in allusion to the life force, and with wide belts around the waist which identify them as warriors. Other pieces show figures in short tunics, again carrying arms and with an erect member, and there are also pieces of horsemen -with or without lances and swords – with a chlamys held by a fibula at the shoulder. Other pieces represent priests, the guardians of holy places, with long tunics, arms extended down the sides and with the hair held by a ribbon. There are figurines of women with long tunics and wearing jewellery as a distinguishing emblem. A long or short gown, the presence or absence of a cape, the rings above the ears and the position of the hands are the essential elements of their characterization. A group of votive offerings which are in a schematic form, make up another group. These may be simple bars or metal pins that show a vulgarization of the image to the point of the loss of a clear identity. There are also worked pieces of animals like the ox, goat and horse, which in small numbers are found among the bronze votive offerings. There are also anatomical votive offerings like legs, eyes and sets of teeth with the aim of obtaining cures for illnesses. BIBLIOGRAPHY: - Prados Torreira, Lourdes. "Exvotos ibéricos de bronce del Museo Arqueológico Nacional". Ministerio de Cultura. Madrid. 1992.

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