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Graves

The Argaric funerary practices indicate a remarkable uniformity all along the territory. The communities buried their deceased under the houses in individual graves. Sometimes these were double and, in very few occasions, multiple. The corpse was deposited in a flexioned position, generally in lateral decubitus or in a sitting position with the head facing the south or west.

The funerary containers are covachas (rock cut tombs), pits dug in the ground, cists constructed with stone slabs or in masonry and ceramic urns.

 

Tumbas 1 y 2 de Zapata (Siret y Siret 1890: lám. 21)Graves 1 and 2 of Zapata (Siret and Siret 1890: lam. 21)
Tumba en covacha excavada en Peñalosa (Contreras et al. 1997: p.131) Covacha discovered in Peñalosa (Contreras et al. 1997: p.131)

 

 

Tumba en fosa del Cerro de la Virgen (Sáez y Schüle 1987: fig. 1)Grave in a pit of Cerro de la Virgen (Sáez and Schüle 1987: fig. 1)

Tumba BA-12 de La Bastida(ASOME ©) Grave BA-12  of la Bastida (ASOME ©)

 

 

Tumba 9 de Fuente Álamo (Siret y Siret 1890: lám. 67)Grave 9 of Fuente Álamo (Siret and Siret 1890: lam. 67)
Tumba 3 de Los Cipreses (Museo Arqueológico de Lorca) Grave 3 of Los Cipreses  (Archaeological Museum of Lorca)

 

 

Tumba 9 de El Argar (Siret y Siret 1890: lám. 35)Grave 9 from El Argar (Siret and Siret 1890: lam.35)
Tumba BA-21 hallada en las excavaciones recientes de La Bastida (ASOME ©) Grave BA-21 found in recent diggings in La Bastida (ASOME ©)

 

Among them, the oldest type of graves are covachas (c.2200-1700 BC) and cists (2000-1500 BC). The urns appear in a later period (1950-1550 BC), whilst the pits are more common in regions in-land of the Argaric territory (circa 2000-1550 BC).

In 1986, Lull and Estévez did the first and most influential statistical analysis on 396 individual graves. Thanks to the differences found in the composition of the metallic and ceramic grave goods, it was possible to define an array of categories as indicators of a society divided in classes

In a former period to 1800 BC, it stands out a number of burials for male and adult individuals including a halberd, long daggers or short swords, among other elements such as dagger, ceramic vessels and ornaments. The burials for females of high class include frequently a dagger/knife and an awl.

As from 1800 BC, the male individuals with halberd give way to a reduced group of men that were buried with long swords.  The females are found in burials containing a diadem and/or a dagger/knife and awl. These individuals constitute the upper class in the Argaric social hierarchy.  In a second level, the men are associated with an axe/dagger and the women to a dagger/knife and awl next to variable number of ceramic and metallic accessories. The widespread presence of burials with young individuals and pre-teens, sometimes with relevant offerings, is new and indicates the action of hereditary mechanisms. These relations of hereditary transmission perpetuated, at the end of the Argar, the class system composed of a ruling class, a group of individuals with full rights and a group without any furniture offerings (See Política e Ideología).

 

Presencia de elementos de ajuar característicos de las cinco clases sociales en las que se estructuró la sociedad argárica teniendo en cuenta la edad, el sexo y la dinámica temporal de los ajuares (Lull et al. 2009: tab. 2)Elements of grave goods characteristic of the five social classes that constitute the Argaric society. These are divided taking into account the age, sex and the temporary dynamic of the grave goods (Lull et al. 2009: tab. 2).

 

Tumbas 1 y 18 de Fuente Álamo con ajuares pertenecientes a la primera categoría social masculina de los siglos iniciales del mundo argárico (Siret y Siret 1890: lám. 66); Tumba 9 de Fuente Álamo con ajuar perteneciente a un hombre y una mujer de la primera categoría social masculina de finales de época argárica (Siret y Siret 1890: lám. 68)                        Tumbas 1 y 18 de Fuente Álamo con ajuares pertenecientes a la primera categoría social masculina de los siglos iniciales del mundo argárico (Siret y Siret 1890: lám. 66); Tumba 9 de Fuente Álamo con ajuar perteneciente a un hombre y una mujer de la primera categoría social masculina de finales de época argárica (Siret y Siret 1890: lám. 68)Grave 1 and 18 from Fuente Álamo with grave goods that belong to the first male social category of the first centuries of the Argaric world (Siret and Siret 1890: lam. 66);  Grave 9 from Fuente Álamo with grave goods that belong to a man and a woman from the first male social category of the late Argaric period (Siret and Siret 1890: lam. 68)

 

 Tumbas 51 y 398 de El Argar con ajuares femeninos propios de la clase dominante (Siret y Siret 1890: lám. 43) Graves 51 and 398 from El Argar with female grave goods distinctive of the ruling class (Siret and Siret 1890: lam. 43)

 

image076Grave 9 from Los Cipreses with grave goods that belong to the female second social category (http://www.museoarqueologicodelorca.com/index.php?id=sala4)
image078 Grave 242 from El Oficio with grave goods that belong to the second social category (Schubart and Ulreich 1991: lam. 98)

 

 

image080Grave 245 from El Argar with grave goods that belong to the male third social category (Siret and Siret 1890: lam.47)
image082 Grave 245 from El Argar with grave goods that belong to the male third social category (Siret and Siret 1890: lam.47)

 

In spite of the individual burials, there are few graves with two individuals: woman-man, woman-infant, man-infant, infant-infant and man-man. This last one is an exception in the Argaric world, as it has only been found in La Bastida. Apart from that, we only have recent references of some recent double grave in the outskirts of the Argaric territory, as in the area of Jaen. In tombs including two adult individuals of both sexes, women are the first to be placed in the tomb, existing a gap of two or more generations between them. This might indicate the role of women as the founder of kinship relations, more compatible with principles of matrilineality/matrilocality than patrilineality. However, this possibility does not necessarily imply the use of female power.

After circa 2200 BC, there is an evident demographic increase that seems to reach its record high during the last centuries of the Argaric group. This increment becomes verified through the analysis of the funerary evidence and the number of grinding instruments. It is outstanding that infant mortality increases at the end of the period, when there is a higher development of artifact manufacture. At the same time, those individuals with greater recognition in the grave goods tend to have higher life expectancy, perhaps because they received more care or less intense physical exertion. This asymmetry in the use of maintenance production turns out to be more evident the more we advance in the Argaric diachrony.

 

image084Simulation of the population that could have been fed from the product obtained with the grinding tools available in the different occupation phases of Fuente Álamo (the final decrease corresponds to the community of the Late Bronze Age) (Risch 2002: graphic 6.29).

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Photo Gallery

Tombs in pit 16 and 18 of Cuesta del Negro (Molina et al. 1975: lam. 1)

Tombs in pit 16 and 18 of Cuesta del Negro (Molina et al. 1975: lam. 1)

Tomb from Cerro de la Encina (de la Torre and Sáez 1975: fig. 1)

Tomb from Cerro de la Encina (de la Torre and Sáez 1975: fig. 1)

Tomb 18, in a pit, from Cerro de la Encina during the excavation process (Aranda et al. 2008: lam. VI)

Tomb 18, in a pit, from Cerro de la Encina during the excavation process (Aranda et al. 2008: lam. VI)

Close picture of the bone remains and grave goods of tomb 20 of Cerro de la Encina (Aranda et al. 2008: lam. VII)

Close picture of the bone remains and grave goods of tomb 20 of Cerro de la Encina (Aranda et al. 2008: lam. VII)

Close picture of a male skeleton of the tomb 21 from Cerro de la Encina showing a bowl in the front part of the thorax and silver ring in the area of the right temporal lobe (Aranda et al. 2008: lam. X)

Close picture of a male skeleton of the tomb 21 from Cerro de la Encina showing a bowl in the front part of the thorax and silver ring in the area of the right temporal lobe (Aranda et al. 2008: lam. X)

Close picture of a female skeleton of the tomb 21 from Cerro de la Encina with a globe near the knees and a cooper bracelet around the left wrist in the front area of the torax and a ring in the area of the right parietal.

Close picture of a female skeleton of the tomb 21 from Cerro de la Encina with a globe near the knees and a cooper bracelet around the left wrist in the front area of the torax and a ring in the area of the right parietal.

The tomb 4 of Bájil shows an individual whose upper body was deposited in an urn and the lower body in a cist.

The tomb 4 of Bájil shows an individual whose upper body was deposited in an urn and the lower body in a cist.

Grave 14 is a stone lined chamber found at Cerro de la Virgen, which contained an skeleton of a 50-60 year old individual, probably female, with pottery and metal objects, among them two awls and a dagger (Schüle 1980: lam. 117ª). Stone lined chambers are a minoritary type of container in the argaric society

Grave 14 is a stone lined chamber found at Cerro de la Virgen, which contained an skeleton of a 50-60 year old individual, probably female, with pottery and metal objects, among them two awls and a dagger (Schüle 1980: lam. 117ª). Stone lined chambers are a minoritary type of container in the argaric society

Cist of Herrerías (cuevas de Almanzora, Almería) containing the remains of an adult individual together with a halberd, a dagger, a blade fragment, a biconical vessel and a bowl (Siret 1913)

Cist of Herrerías (cuevas de Almanzora, Almería) containing the remains of an adult individual together with a halberd, a dagger, a blade fragment, a biconical vessel and a bowl (Siret 1913)

Reconstruction of the Cist of Herrerías (National Archaeological Museum)

Reconstruction of the Cist of Herrerías (National Archaeological Museum)

Grave goods  objects from the double grave nº 9 of Fuente Álamo, composed of diadem, espiral ring, sword, two dagger blades and pottery (Mariën y Ulrix-Closset 1985: fig. 80)

Grave goods objects from the double grave nº 9 of Fuente Álamo, composed of diadem, espiral ring, sword, two dagger blades and pottery (Mariën y Ulrix-Closset 1985: fig. 80)

Carinated vessel , halberd and dagger blades found in the rock cut tomb 54 at Fuente Álamo

Carinated vessel , halberd and dagger blades found in the rock cut tomb 54 at Fuente Álamo

Two ovoidal vessels, cup, carinated cup, axe, dagger , a bracelet  and a ring made of silver discoverd in the cist tomb 68 of Fuente Álamo

Two ovoidal vessels, cup, carinated cup, axe, dagger , a bracelet and a ring made of silver discoverd in the cist tomb 68 of Fuente Álamo

Stone beads that constituted a collar found in grave 22 of Cerro de la Encina (Ethnologic and archaeological  Museum of Granada; http://ceres.mcu.es)

Stone beads that constituted a collar found in grave 22 of Cerro de la Encina (Ethnologic and archaeological Museum of Granada; http://ceres.mcu.es)

Silver ring and phalanx to which it seems to be related to,  found in tomb 111 of Fuente Álamo (“ Cuevas” Museum of Almería; http://ceres.mcu.es)

Silver ring and phalanx to which it seems to be related to, found in tomb 111 of Fuente Álamo (“ Cuevas” Museum of Almería; http://ceres.mcu.es)

Grave goods from tomb 158 of El Oficio (Siret and Siret 1890: lam. 63)

Grave goods from tomb 158 of El Oficio (Siret and Siret 1890: lam. 63)

Grave goods from grave 6 of El Oficio that belonged to a woman from the upper social rank (Siret and SIret 1890: lam. 63)

Grave goods from grave 6 of El Oficio that belonged to a woman from the upper social rank (Siret and SIret 1890: lam. 63)

Detail of the silver diadem from grave 6 of El Oficio (Mariën y Ulrix-Closset 1985: fig. 68)

Detail of the silver diadem from grave 6 of El Oficio (Mariën y Ulrix-Closset 1985: fig. 68)

Tooth decay in a child died around the age of 7, found in grave 3 of “Madres Mercedarias” Convent of Lorca (Rihuete 2006). Caries is often associated with diets rich in carbohydrates .

Tooth decay in a child died around the age of 7, found in grave 3 of “Madres Mercedarias” Convent of Lorca (Rihuete 2006). Caries is often associated with diets rich in carbohydrates .

Cervical arthrosis in a man who died in his 40s-50s, found in grave 5 of “Madres Mercedarias” Convent of Lorca (Rihuete 2006)Cervical arthrosis in a man who died in his 40s-50s, found in grave 5 of “Madres Mercedarias” Convent of Lorca (Rihuete 2006)

Cervical arthrosis in a man who died in his 40s-50s, found in grave 5 of “Madres Mercedarias” Convent of Lorca (Rihuete 2006)

  • Tombs in pit 16 and 18 of Cuesta del Negro (Molina et al. 1975: lam. 1)
  • Tomb from Cerro de la Encina (de la Torre and Sáez 1975: fig. 1)
  • Tomb 18, in a pit, from Cerro de la Encina during the excavation process (Aranda et al. 2008: lam. VI)
  • Close picture of the bone remains and grave goods of tomb 20 of Cerro de la Encina (Aranda et al. 2008: lam. VII)
  • Close picture of a male skeleton of the tomb 21 from Cerro de la Encina showing a bowl in the front part of the thorax and silver ring in the area of the right temporal lobe (Aranda et al. 2008: lam. X)
  • Close picture of a female skeleton of the tomb 21 from Cerro de la Encina with a globe near the knees and a cooper bracelet around the left wrist in the front area of the torax and a ring in the area of the right parietal.
  • The tomb 4 of Bájil shows an individual whose upper body was deposited in an urn and the lower body in a cist.
  • Grave 14 is a stone lined chamber found at Cerro de la Virgen, which contained an skeleton of a 50-60 year old individual, probably female, with pottery and metal objects, among them two awls and a dagger (Schüle 1980: lam. 117ª). Stone lined chambers are a minoritary type of container in the argaric society
  • Cist of Herrerías (cuevas de Almanzora, Almería) containing the remains of an adult individual together with a halberd, a dagger, a blade fragment, a biconical vessel and a bowl (Siret 1913)
  • Reconstruction of the Cist of Herrerías (National Archaeological Museum)
  • Grave goods  objects from the double grave nº 9 of Fuente Álamo, composed of diadem, espiral ring, sword, two dagger blades and pottery (Mariën y Ulrix-Closset 1985: fig. 80)
  • Carinated vessel , halberd and dagger blades found in the rock cut tomb 54 at Fuente Álamo
  • Two ovoidal vessels, cup, carinated cup, axe, dagger , a bracelet  and a ring made of silver discoverd in the cist tomb 68 of Fuente Álamo
  • Stone beads that constituted a collar found in grave 22 of Cerro de la Encina (Ethnologic and archaeological  Museum of Granada; http://ceres.mcu.es)
  • Silver ring and phalanx to which it seems to be related to,  found in tomb 111 of Fuente Álamo (“ Cuevas” Museum of Almería; http://ceres.mcu.es)
  • Grave goods from tomb 158 of El Oficio (Siret and Siret 1890: lam. 63)
  • Grave goods from grave 6 of El Oficio that belonged to a woman from the upper social rank (Siret and SIret 1890: lam. 63)
  • Detail of the silver diadem from grave 6 of El Oficio (Mariën y Ulrix-Closset 1985: fig. 68)
  • Tooth decay in a child died around the age of 7, found in grave 3 of “Madres Mercedarias” Convent of Lorca (Rihuete 2006). Caries is often associated with diets rich in carbohydrates .
  • Cervical arthrosis in a man who died in his 40s-50s, found in grave 5 of “Madres Mercedarias” Convent of Lorca (Rihuete 2006)Cervical arthrosis in a man who died in his 40s-50s, found in grave 5 of “Madres Mercedarias” Convent of Lorca (Rihuete 2006)

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