August 8, 2010

La Dama De Elche

A while back, my mum gave me a postcard featuring this beautiful lady – she’s enchanted me ever since. Known as La Dama de Elche, this stone bust is a fabulous example of Iberian sculpture which dates from the 4th century B.C.

Her jewellery is typically Iberian. The two large wheels (or rodetes) covering her ears hang from chains tied to a leather band circling her head and were probably made from metal. Her three necklaces were made from small filigree beads and crowns, and are thought to be reproductions of even earlier jewellery which originated in Ionia (an area in present-day Turkey) around 600 B.C.

The bust was discovered in 1897 at L'Alcúdia, an archaeological site south of Elche near Valencia in Spain. Having spent time at the Louvre in Paris (where she was hidden for safekeeping during WWII) and The Prado in Madrid (when she was re-patriated following negotiations with dictator Franco’s government) she can now be found In Spain’s National Archaeological Museum. Her other claim to fame is that she appeared on a 1948 Spanish one-peseta banknote.

Although it has been suggested that she’s a forgery, pigments found on the Dama are consistent with ancient materials. Here’s what she might originally have looked like two-and-a-half thousand years ago.

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