The “Dama de Elche”, an icon of Iberian art dated between the 5th and 4th centuries BC, will be on display in this town in Alicante province until November. It is an extraordinary testimony to a civilisation that inhabited Spain more than 2,500 years ago. It is not the only one, however. There are other female figures from the same period, also of great artistic value.

Spain has seen many different civilisations come and go. Archaeological discoveries mean that their legacy can be experienced to this day. This is what happened, for example, in 1897, when a young peasant from Elche, in the province of Alicante, came across the bust of a woman carved in limestone. This bust has since become the town’s symbol. This is the Dama de Elche (Lady of Elche). The figure represents a priestess. She has an enigmatic gaze and the piece is worked with impressive skill. It is the pinnacle of Iberian art. The Iberians lived in Spain in the 6th-3rd centuries BC. This civilisation was outstanding for its detailed sculpting of women’s personal adornments (jewels, necklaces, diadems, earrings…).

This year, until November, the sculpture will be moving from its usual location, the National Archaeological Museum in Madrid, to go on display in Elche, as part of the major exhibition, De Ilici a Elx 2006. Come and see the bust and make the most of the chance to find out more about the Iberians. Their civilisation had deep roots throughout the Mediterranean region, as can be seen from the discoveries made in these areas. In Guardamar del Segura, just a few kilometres from Elche, the Dama de Cabezo Lucero was found, one of the gems of the collection at the Alicante Province Archaeological Museum (MARQ). The case of Villena is similar. Here you can see interesting items of precious metal work and Iberian sculpture, with sculptures such as the “Dama de Caudete” (Lady of Caudete) and the “Leona de El Zaricejo” (Lioness of El Zaricejo).

In the province of Albacete, the Gran Dama Oferente del Cerro de los Santos statue appeared at one of the sites that has produced the most human and animal figures, terracotta items, bronze pieces and even weapons form the Iberian period ever found. Many of these effigies are on display at the National Archaeological Museum. This is the case of the Dama de Baza, a funereal statue of a female that dates from the 6th century BC, probably representing a goddess on a winged throne with feline claws. This sculpture comes from the ancient necropolis in Baza, in the province of Granada, and it is another important example of the legacy left behind by the Iberian civilisation in Spain.

To sum up, they are different figures with their own special personality, which also share common characteristics. This is heritage of immense artistic and historic value, within the reach of all.