Eyed Idol

This figure, belonging to the group of Eyed Idols, resembles a small pillar with a slightly concave profile. The design reproduces the anatomical features of the human face: the eyebrows (two thick curved lines with vertical incisions) are clearly incised above the wheel-shaped eyes. Below each eye there are three semicircular lines whose exact significance is not known, although they could represent facial tattoos or a beard. However, neither of these explanations seems totally satisfactory. On the posterior surface of the idol there is a zigzag pattern that could represent wavy hair.

This sculpture belongs to the archeological culture known as the Millares, the name derived from the most important necropolis in the Iberian Peninsula during the Chalcolithic period, around 3500-2250 B.C. Most of the sites related to this group are distributed around the province of Almeria and the eastern part of the province of Granada, also reaching down to Murcia and the southern part of the province of Alicante. The societies in these regions were principally pastoral and agricultural, although there was some emerging metallurgic activity.

Apart from the Eyed Idols with anthropomorphic decoration but lacking tridimensional form, there are also parallel forms known as Plaque Idols, simple rectangular pieces of slate, quartzite or schist, varying in size, with incised or painted anatomical features. The best example of an Eyed Idol in existence is located in the National Archeological Museum in Madrid, and is known as the “Idol of Extremadura”.

These idols are almost always related to funerary practices and come from tombs or necropolises. Their connection with beliefs about the other world is, therefore, evident and very strong, although their exact purpose in the funerary rituals and cults is, for the most part, a mystery. Some archeologists believe that they are connected to the great Neolithic divinity, the Mother Goddess, related principally with fertility and fecundity.


- Eyed idol ( "of Extremadura"). Museo Arqueológico Nacional, Madrid.
- Archaeological Museum, Jerez de la Frontera, Cádiz, España.
- Archaeological Museum, Huelva, España.
- Eyed idols found in the Semninario of Huelva zone.
- The Human form divine ‐ from the collections of Elie Borowski. Bible Lands Museum. Jerusalem. 2000. pp. 86 ‐ 89.
- Christie’s. Antiquities. 20th October 1999. Lot 132.
- Christie’s. Antiquities. 12th June 2002. Lot 5.

- ALMAGRO GORBEA M.J. Los ídolos del Bronce I hispano. Madrid. 1973.
- Spanish Institute. Iberian Antiquities. N. 1.

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