Rethinking Iberian ‘warrior’ stelae: a multidisciplinary investigation of Mirasiviene and its connection to Setefilla (Lora del Río, Seville, Spain)
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Warrior stelaeChaîne opératoireDigital imagingLandscape contextEarly Iron AgeLate Bronze Age
Díaz-Guardamino, M., Sanjuán, L. G., Wheatley, D. W., Rodríguez, J. A. L., Candelera, M. Á. R., Krueger, M., ... & Nieto, V. B. (2019). Rethinking Iberian ‘warrior’stelae: a multidisciplinary investigation of Mirasiviene and its connection to Setefilla (Lora del Río, Seville, Spain). Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences, 11(11), 6111-6140.
SponsorshipThe research was financed by the Spanish Ministry of Education (Programa Nacional de Movilidad de Recursos Humanos del Plan Nacional de I-D+i 2008-2011) (post-doctoral grant awarded to MDG) and the Polish National Science Centre (grant number DEC-2017/ 25/B/HS3/00635) (awarded to MK).
Iberian ‘warrior’ stelae have captured the imagination of researchers and the public for more than a century. Traditionally, stelae were considered ‘de-contextualised’ monuments, and research typically focused on the study of their iconography, paying little or no attention to their immediate contexts. As a result, despite the large number of these stelae known to date (c. 140) and the ample body of literature that has dealt with them, fundamental questions remain unanswered. This paper aims to demonstrate the potential of a multidisciplinary and contextual approach to push forward the research agenda on these monuments through a case study. Firstly, we introduce the Mirasiviene stela and the methods deployed for its investigation, which include a variety of digital imaging techniques, petrography, pXRF, intensive survey and multiscalar spatial analysis. Secondly, we discuss the results in relation to three main topics: stela biography, social practices and landscape context. Comparisons to the well-known nearby Bronze Age and Iron Age site of Setefilla are made throughout the discussion. Ultimately, this paper makes a case for the stelae of Mirasiviene and Setefilla being polyvalent monuments made by local artisans, that served both as landmarks and memorials in connection with dense late second and early first millennium BCE settlement patterns in the region. Probably linked to elites, ‘houses’ or kin groups of this time, stelae were set in symbolically charged places, liminal spaces nearby water, burials and pathways, attracting a range of ritual activities throughout the centuries. The study of the newly discovered Mirasiviene stela shows that multidisciplinary, cutting-edge non-destructive archaeology can shed significant new light on these prehistoric monuments, thus providing a glimpse of what in our opinion is a paradigm shift in the research of similar monuments throughout Europe.