The political use of the assembly hall was unmistakable when the richest double tomb in the Argaric world was discovered there. And she was not alone, although she alone made the other nearby graves make sense. This space was and still is an allegory of the class stratification of this society.

Six graves appeared in 2013 under this room; the seventh and majestic one, was discovered in 2014. Each of them increased the surprise at the enigma they posed; You will know why right away.

Six graves appeared in 2013 under this room; the seventh and majestic one, was discovered in 2014. Each of them increased the surprise at the enigma they posed; You will know why right away.

What is that skull doing there in the foreground and immediately below the floor? It appeared without looking for it while we were excavating a woman's grave at the other end of the room. We named AY3 to the woman's tomb, and the mysterious skull found later became the skeleton AY5. But let’s follow the chronological sequence. The slabs that you see under the bench on the left pointed to a grave that we decided to leave, after weighing the pros and cons, for excavating in 2014. It was a good call because AY38, one of the wealthiest argaric tombs found to date, was there and we were able to document it without haste in 2014.

What is that skull doing there in the foreground and immediately below the floor? It appeared without looking for it while we were excavating a woman’s grave at the other end of the room. We named AY3 to the woman’s tomb, and the mysterious skull found later became the skeleton AY5. But let’s follow the chronological sequence. The slabs that you see under the bench on the left pointed to a grave that we decided to leave, after weighing the pros and cons, for excavating in 2014. It was a good call because AY38, one of the wealthiest argaric tombs found to date, was there and we were able to document it without haste in 2014.

The woman, AY3, was placed inside two facing urns, stabilized with a powerful stone rig. She puzzled us: If there was space to put her at the base of the urns, why was she placed with her back higher and leaning on the side of only one of the urns? Her fallen trunk facing down was the clue that indicated her original position. We would soon know the answer: she was pregnant! Her bulging abdomen only fit that way. At her feet, as you can see, she had a small bowl, and next to it, a dagger and an awl, some objects that identify her as a full-fledged citizen. She also met the norm of being buried as usual among women, in a fetal position and lying on her right side.

The woman, AY3, was placed inside two facing urns, stabilized with a powerful stone rig. She puzzled us: If there was space to put her at the base of the urns, why was she placed with her back higher and leaning on the side of only one of the urns? Her fallen trunk facing down was the clue that indicated her original position. We would soon know the answer: she was pregnant! Her bulging abdomen only fit that way. At her feet, as you can see, she had a small bowl, and next to it, a dagger and an awl, some objects that identify her as a full-fledged citizen. She also met the norm of being buried as usual among women, in a fetal position and lying on her right side.

Burying a pregnant woman was unusual in the Argaric world. However, there is a common feature in all documented cases: they were in the third trimester of pregnancy.
This young woman and child possibly died of complications during birth.

Burying a pregnant woman was unusual in the Argaric world. However, there is a common feature in all documented cases: they were in the third trimester of pregnancy.

This young woman and child possibly died of complications during birth.

She was not a new mother and still had a few fertile years left when she passed away between 25 and 27. Her pubic marks indicate that she had more than two pregnancies (characterised by the developed pubic tubercle) and birth complications resulting in scarring and inflammation of the ligaments. She was a motherhood veteran, but she couldn't make it through her last delivery.

She was not a new mother and still had a few fertile years left when she passed away between 25 and 27. Her pubic marks indicate that she had more than two pregnancies (characterised by the developed pubic tubercle) and birth complications resulting in scarring and inflammation of the ligaments. She was a motherhood veteran, but she couldn’t make it through her last delivery.

Let's go back to the other enigma we had left in suspense while excavating the woman with her unborn. This view from the north and preceded by the great hearth leads us to imagine a permanent fire.  We couldn't help to think that this skull had been stepped on over and over again and how close it was to the fireplace. Thus, we decided to dig into that sector so that fantasy would give way to reality. Who was that skull, and what was it doing there?

Let’s go back to the other enigma we had left in suspense while excavating the woman with her unborn. This view from the north and preceded by the great hearth leads us to imagine a permanent fire.  We couldn’t help to think that this skull had been stepped on over and over again and how close it was to the fireplace. Thus, we decided to dig into that sector so that fantasy would give way to reality. Who was that skull, and what was it doing there?

It turned out that it was not just the skull but a complete skeleton. It was placed in a minimal grave on the floor and resting with its back on the ground and its face staring into the fire. It was a man about 1.63 m tall, not particularly robust and who had not made great physical efforts in life.

It turned out that it was not just the skull but a complete skeleton. It was placed in a minimal grave on the floor and resting with its back on the ground and its face staring into the fire. It was a man about 1.63 m tall, not particularly robust and who had not made great physical efforts in life.

He died around 45 years of age and had almost no arthritic or inflammatory signs in the muscle attachments. However, he did have two consolidated fractures: one behind the head caused by a blunt object and the other called a

He died around 45 years of age and had almost no arthritic or inflammatory signs in the muscle attachments. However, he did have two consolidated fractures: one behind the head caused by a blunt object and the other called a “boxer’s fracture” in the fifth metacarpal of the left little finger. Although, these injuries are of little importance compared to those found in other skeletons, for example, the man of grave AY12, another of the men buried under the large Hall.

How much suffered the man from AY12! The circles indicate the injuries that marked the life of this man.

How much suffered the man from AY12! The circles indicate the injuries that marked the life of this man.

He was the same age as AY5 when he passed away, but with a considerable difference regarding the use of the body. In the first years of productive activity, she had to carry enough weight to deteriorate the lumbar discs that caused the formation of osteophytes.

He was the same age as AY5 when he passed away, but with a considerable difference regarding the use of the body. In the first years of productive activity, she had to carry enough weight to deteriorate the lumbar discs that caused the formation of osteophytes.

Suddenly, his mobility was significantly reduced. He must have twisted his foot or suffered a crush on the instep arch and never recovered from this injury again, which degenerated into severe osteoarthritis combined with inflammation of the supporting ligaments of the plantar arch. His body had to adapt to this serious impediment, compensating for the support on her right leg that ended up causing him osteoarthritis in the hip, knee and ankle. This overload also affected the ligaments: pulling in the fibula due to ankle dislocation and spurs in the Achilles tendon and plantar calcaneus (the heel bone) made moving around increasingly tricky.

Suddenly, his mobility was significantly reduced. He must have twisted his foot or suffered a crush on the instep arch and never recovered from this injury again, which degenerated into severe osteoarthritis combined with inflammation of the supporting ligaments of the plantar arch. His body had to adapt to this serious impediment, compensating for the support on her right leg that ended up causing him osteoarthritis in the hip, knee and ankle. This overload also affected the ligaments: pulling in the fibula due to ankle dislocation and spurs in the Achilles tendon and plantar calcaneus (the heel bone) made moving around increasingly tricky.

However, he didn't stop working for that, though. The severe arthritic injuries in the wrists indicate that he continued to move the hands and wrists intensely until the cartilage was completely damaged. And then, bone-to-bone friction created this shiny look on the joint surface.

However, he didn’t stop working for that, though. The severe arthritic injuries in the wrists indicate that he continued to move the hands and wrists intensely until the cartilage was completely damaged. And then, bone-to-bone friction created this shiny look on the joint surface.

Despite not standing out for the richness of his offerings, he occupied a place in the great hall at his death, inside a masonry cist.

Despite not standing out for the richness of his offerings, he occupied a place in the great hall at his death, inside a masonry cist.

These stories of townspeople contrast with the life led by the women and the men buried inside that urn perfectly sealed with that enormous limestone slab. They, the occupants of AY38, represent with their objects the power par excellence. Power to accumulate wealth and preserve it, even after death.

These stories of townspeople contrast with the life led by the women and the men buried inside that urn perfectly sealed with that enormous limestone slab. They, the occupants of AY38, represent with their objects the power par excellence. Power to accumulate wealth and preserve it, even after death.

He was a relatively old man for the time, between 35 and 40 years old, and was buried first, lying on the left side, maintaining the Argaric custom. She, placed on top and looking directly to the entrance of the urn, was a young woman who died between the ages of 25 and 27. Their skeletons barely shifted in nearly four thousand years. It is difficult to say if they died at the same time or if the woman died shortly after the man. What is clear is that all the objects indicate without a trace of doubt that they belonged to the ruling class.

He was a relatively old man for the time, between 35 and 40 years old, and was buried first, lying on the left side, maintaining the Argaric custom. She, placed on top and looking directly to the entrance of the urn, was a young woman who died between the ages of 25 and 27. Their skeletons barely shifted in nearly four thousand years. It is difficult to say if they died at the same time or if the woman died shortly after the man. What is clear is that all the objects indicate without a trace of doubt that they belonged to the ruling class.

In their time, the social status of these two characters would have left many people speechless. That’s why we are giving way to images of the luxury that decked them out. In total, some thirty objects are part of one of the wealthiest grave goods of the almost three thousand known Argaric tombs. Silver abounds everywhere: in ornaments, in the rivets of the dagger, covering the awl handle, or along the entire carinated body and the rim of a burnished ceramic vessel. It is impossible not to be overwhelmed as you admire the exquisite goldsmith art concentrated in this tomb.

In their time, the social status of these two characters would have left many people speechless. That’s why we are giving way to images of the luxury that decked them out. In total, some thirty objects are part of one of the wealthiest grave goods of the almost three thousand known Argaric tombs. Silver abounds everywhere: in ornaments, in the rivets of the dagger, covering the awl handle, or along the entire carinated body and the rim of a burnished ceramic vessel. It is impossible not to be overwhelmed as you admire the exquisite goldsmith art concentrated in this tomb.

She was the wealthiest one.  She appeared with two voluminous silver ear tunnel plugs furrowed by spiral rings that increased the size of these ornaments on the side of her face. And she was crowned with a silver diadem with discoid appendage resting on the forehead. Just imagine this woman so decked out and looking at the sun. The reflection of the rays on these jewels would blind anyone who dared to look at her. Did these Argaric women inspire the myth of Medusa?

She was the wealthiest one.  She appeared with two voluminous silver ear tunnel plugs furrowed by spiral rings that increased the size of these ornaments on the side of her face. And she was crowned with a silver diadem with discoid appendage resting on the forehead. Just imagine this woman so decked out and looking at the sun. The reflection of the rays on these jewels would blind anyone who dared to look at her. Did these Argaric women inspire the myth of Medusa?

Other four silver diadems like this one are known, discovered at the end of the 19th century at El Argar site, in Antas (Almería). They are so similar that probably they were manufactured in the same goldsmith workshop. Furthermore, they imply an aristocratic bond between women buried more than 100 km apart who, nevertheless, shared the same emblems of distinction.

Other four silver diadems like this one are known, discovered at the end of the 19th century at El Argar site, in Antas (Almería). They are so similar that probably they were manufactured in the same goldsmith workshop. Furthermore, they imply an aristocratic bond between women buried more than 100 km apart who, nevertheless, shared the same emblems of distinction.

The silver handle of the awl is a work of such technical precision that we could not have imagined that it could be mastered at that time. Nevertheless, it allowed the perfect assemblage of the silver sheets that hugged the oak wood handle. In addition, the copper awl was fitting with perfect sealing.

The silver handle of the awl is a work of such technical precision that we could not have imagined that it could be mastered at that time. Nevertheless, it allowed the perfect assemblage of the silver sheets that hugged the oak wood handle. In addition, the copper awl was fitting with perfect sealing.

The man also wore emblematic objects: two gold earplugs with a decoration of embossed continuous dots on their rims. These ornaments also show the application of a novel technology for the time.  Their production required mastering the anticlastic technique, which allowed a continuous concavity in a metal band that closes in a circle on itself.

The man also wore emblematic objects: two gold earplugs with a decoration of embossed continuous dots on their rims. These ornaments also show the application of a novel technology for the time.  Their production required mastering the anticlastic technique, which allowed a continuous concavity in a metal band that closes in a circle on itself.

Among other magnificent artefacts of this tomb, it stands out the dagger with four silver rivets. However, these do not provide any functional improvement but distinguish it aesthetically.

Among other magnificent artefacts of this tomb, it stands out the dagger with four silver rivets. However, these do not provide any functional improvement but distinguish it aesthetically.

National and international media quickly captured the repercussion of this fabulous finding. Thus, these two representatives of the Argaric ruling class and buried under the assembly room has become an icon of one of the first state societies in continental Europe.

National and international media quickly captured the repercussion of this fabulous finding. Thus, these two representatives of the Argaric ruling class and buried under the assembly room has become an icon of one of the first state societies in continental Europe.

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