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The prominent position of women during the Bronze Age is demonstrated by the discovery of the Agarican couple wearing silver crowns.

Deep beneath the earth’s surface, hidden under layers of time’s dust, the Agarican civilization once flourished during the Bronze Age. Renowned for their exquisite metalworking techniques and extensive trade networks, the Agaricans left an indelible mark on history. Amidst the countless mysteries buried underground, the discovery of an Agarican couple adorned with a silver crown stands as a crucial piece of the puzzle, unveiling a vibrant tapestry of women’s power dynamics in this ancient society.

The 25- to 30-year-old woman was buried next to an older man

This remarkable find has captivated archaeologists not only for the rare intactness of the tomb but also for the gleaming silver crown resting upon the woman’s head. This symbol of authority raises profound questions about the position of women in Agarican society, challenging conventional notions of gender roles in the Bronze Age.

Discovering More About the Woman and the Man in the Jar

About 3,700 years ago, a man and a woman were buried together in the southeast of the Iberian Peninsula. Their tomb was an ovoid jar beneath the floor of a grand hall in an expansive hilltop complex known as La Almoloya, in what is now Murcia, Spain. It’s one of many archaeological sites associated with the El Argar culture of the Early Bronze Age that controlled an area about the size of Belgium from 2,200 BC to 1,500 BC. And the woman may have been the more important of the two, raising questions for archaeologists about who wielded power among the Argarics, and adding more evidence to a debate about the role of women in prehistoric Europe.

Some of the grave goods found at the burial site Courtesy of the Arqueoecologia Social Mediterrània Research Group, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

She died in her 20s, possibly of tuberculosis, and had been placed on her back with her legs bent toward the man. In life, she had a range of congenital anomalies such as a shortened, fused spine and a stunted left thumb. The man, who was in his 30s when he died, had been interred with his own fineries, including flared gold plugs in his ears. The silver ring that had once been on his finger had fallen off and lay near his lower back. By his side was a copper dagger fitted with four silver rivets.

On and around her were sublime silver emblems of wealth and power. Her hair had been fastened with silver spirals, and her silver earlobe plugs — one larger than the other — had silver spirals looped through them. A silver bracelet was near her elbow, and a silver ring was still on her finger. Silver embellished the diamond-shaped ceramic pot near her, and triple plates of silver embellished her oak-wood awl — a symbol of womanhood. Her most fantastic silver artifact is an impeccably crafted diadem — a headband-like crown — that still rested on her head. Only six have been discovered in Argaric graves

Golden earlobe tunnel-plugs from La Almoloya grave.

Silver crown may point to woman with political power in Bronze Age

Of the 29 treasures found in the burial, the silver diadem is the most valuable; it’s one of only six ever found from Bronze Age Spain. Diadems are often interpreted as symbols of rank that were worn by leaders, the researchers wrote in the study. This particular type of diadem — with a flat, mushroom-like circle on the front — could be worn facing upward or downward. (Archaeologists have found it both ways in burials.)

This silver diadem was one of around 29 valuable artifacts buried with a Bronze Age woman.

Four silver diadems have previously been found buried with Argaric women, although it wasn’t clear whether the women were rulers rather than important religious figures. But this is the first time a woman buried with such riches has been found in a building more clearly used for governing.

This diadem likely signified that the woman was part of the dominant ruling class, just like crowns found in other Bronze Age societies, including the Wessex culture in what is now the southern U.K. and the Únětice culture in what is now Central Europe.

Moreover, other burials from the El Argar culture show that upper-class women were often buried with posh, gender-specific goods, often starting at about age 6, while men weren’t given this honor until about age 12. This suggests that “girls would acquire this gender status earlier than boys,”

Aerial view of La Almoloya in 2015

So, were the woman’s diadem and other treasures emblems of power, or merely burial ornaments?

The unearthing of the silver crown couple in Argarica represents a watershed moment in archaeological research, offering a glimpse into the intricate tapestry of power and gender in the Bronze Age. As we continue to unravel the mysteries of this ancient civilization, further exploration and analysis of such discoveries will undoubtedly enrich our understanding of the complexities of human society and culture in antiquity.

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