Iberian sculpture

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The Lady of Elche The Lady of Elche, once polychrome stone bust discovered by chance in 1897 at L'Alcudia, believed to be a piece of Iberian sculpture from the 4th century BC, National Archaeological Museum of Spain, Madrid (20098349590).jpg
The Lady of Elche

Iberian sculpture, a subset of Iberian art, describes the various sculptural styles developed by the Iberians [1] from the Bronze Age up to the Roman conquest. For this reason it is sometimes described as Pre-Roman Iberian sculpture.


Almost all extant works of Iberian sculpture visibly reflect Greek and Phoenician influences, and Assyrian, Hittite and Egyptian influences from which those derived (specially the Phoenician one); yet they have their own unique character. Within this complex stylistic heritage, individual works can be placed within a spectrum of influences- some of more obvious Phoenician derivation, and some so similar to Greek works that they could have been directly imported from that region. Overall the degree of influence is correlated to the work's region of origin, and hence they are classified into groups on that basis.

The Levantine Group

The Bicha of Balazote Bicha de Balazote (M.A.N. Madrid) 03.jpg
The Bicha of Balazote

The sculptures that comprise the Levantine group were mostly made between the 5th century B.C. and the period of Roman domination; this group is best represented in museum collections. The most famous among them is the bust known as The Lady of Elche , which displays evident Greek influence. Works in this style number over 670; though there are stylistic differences, which testify to the successive influences of conquering peoples.

More visibly oriental references, possibly influenced by the Egyptian sphinx and the Assyrian Lamassu, are evident in the various stone sculptures in the form of sphinxes, bulls, or lions found in the area of Valencia, Alicante, and Albacete. They include:

The Warrior of Mogente [es] Guerrero de Mogente.jpg
The Warrior of Mogente  [ es ]

The numerous statues of bronze (some of silver) found in two places of the region of Sierra Morena in the province of Jaén can be considered to be more indigenous derivatives of the initial, Greek and oriental- influenced, Levantine sculptural style.

In the period between the 5th century BC and the 5th century AD, sanctuaries like Montealegre used small bronze castings, rather than stone carvings, as votive offerings. These sculptures were cast from earthen molds in molten bronze in the technique of lost wax casting, but since the mold was rendered useless after only one casting, two identical works have yet to be found amongst these sculptures. Approximately 4,000 sculptures in this style have been excavated, depicting Iberian warriors, riders, religious celebrants, small horses, and body parts.

A great deal of Greek and Punic statues and busts in Terra cotta, together with various amulets in ivory, metal or carved of thin stone, have been uncovered at the necropolis of Ibiza, La Palma, and Formentera. The oldest have been dated to the 8th century B.C., and they most likely continued to be made up to the Roman domination. These include:

Pieces also considered to be of Phoenician or Punic origin but with Greek influence include the bronze heads of bulls (probably votive offerings) found in Majorca. A very early Phoenician piece from Galera depicts a seated female, perhaps Astarte, flanked by sphinxes.

The Southern Group

The Lady of Baza Dama de Baza ampliada.jpg
The Lady of Baza

The southern group is principally composed of sculptures found in sepulchers, and other funeral monuments, in the Andalusian region. Most of them display heavy Phoenician influence. They are as follows:

The Western Group

The western group is composed of granite funeral stelae from Portugal and Galicia that represent foot soldiers dressed in tunics and armed with round shields. These sculptures are relatively coarsely worked. Some of them bear Roman inscriptions, which were probably added long after the figures were carved.

The Central Group

The Bulls of Guisando Toros de Guisando.jpg
The Bulls of Guisando

In the center of the Peninsula, between the rivers Douro and Tagus there are many granite sculptures roughly carved in the form of bulls, or perhaps some other animal. Some of these also have Roman inscriptions, which again were probably added later. The most famous of these monuments are the four known as the Bulls of Guisando . Archeologists[ who? ] consider them to be works of the same culture that carved the sphinxes of the Levantine region.[ citation needed ]

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<i>Lady of Elche</i>

The Lady of Elx or Lady of Elche is a limestone bust that was discovered in 1897, at La Alcudia, an archaeological site on a private estate two kilometers south of Elche, Spain. It is currently exhibited in the National Archaeological Museum of Spain in Madrid.

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Iberian scripts Writing systems

The Iberian scripts are the Paleohispanic scripts that were used to represent the extinct Iberian language. Most of them are typologically unusual in that they are semi-syllabic rather than purely alphabetic. The oldest Iberian inscriptions date to the 4th or possibly the 5th century BCE, and the latest from end of the 1st century BCE or possibly the beginning of the 1st century CE.

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Southeastern Iberian script Writing system

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<i>Sphinx of Haches</i>

The Sphinx of Haches is an Iberian sculpture depicting a sphinx. It is exhibited at the Albacete Provincial Museum.

<i>Torito of Porcuna</i> Iberian sculpture

The Toritoof Porcuna is an Iberian sculpture depicting a bull. It shows orientalizing influences and it is also referred to as the toro orientalizante de Porcuna.


  1. Vuong, Quan-Hoang (2022). A New Theory of Serendipity: Nature, Emergence and Mechanism. Walter de Gruyter GmbH. ISBN   9788366675582.