A sheet of lead with Iberian inscriptions found in an old town in Valencia

During an archaeological campaign carried out in 2018 in the Pico de los Ajos (Yátova, Valencia), one of the most important Iberian deposits in the Peninsula, a lead foil bent over on itself.

The metal sheets used as writing support are relatively common in the sites of the Iberian culture, but this is one of the few that appears in a regulated excavation – many others come from looting – and the first found in Pico de los Ajos.

After its cleaning and adaptation in the Museum of Prehistory of Valencia (MPV), researchers from the Department of Prehistory, Archeology and Ancient History of the University of Valencia (UV) studied it and other scientists from the University of Barcelona (UB) interpreted it palaeographically. .

In this lead sheet found in the Iberian site of Pico de los Ajos (Yátova, Valencia) it has been possible to identify with enough certainty the name of a person, Tořaibeleś, presumably the author of the text or the person who commissioned it.

The results, published in the magazine Veleia, reveal that the Iberian writing on the plate is archaic and has an unknown subject, although it has been able to be transcribed phonetically. Written on both sides and forming a single text, Iberian symbols of known loudness can be identified.

“Iberian is a language that still cannot be translated, but in which experts progress little by little in the identification of words and this helps to interpret what type of texts they were”, explains the co-author David quixal from the UV.

In fact, in this lead it has been possible to identify with enough certainty the name of a person, Tořaibeleś, presumably the author of the text or whoever commissioned it.

Possible religious text

Regarding the subject matter, its commercial or administrative nature is ruled out, so one hypothesis is that it could be a religious text. “Its formal characteristics are uncommon, the closest parallel being that of the votive plates of El Amarejo (Albacete) – point out the authors -, and the presence of the element kutuŕ, frequent in the rock votive inscriptions, would also point to a religious interpretation ”.

In any case, the message it contains is not clear and, therefore, the exact context in which it should be placed is not clear, although the researchers consider a time range.

This lead was written between the 4th and 3rd centuries BC, but the interesting thing is that its archaeological find occurred in a later context, from the 2nd and 1st centuries BC, at which time it had lost its original function and was a simple metal. more to recycle

“Although its archaeological context has a chronology of the end of the 2nd century BC. C. or principles of the I a. C. –Explain–, this new lead presents a archaic palaeography, 3rd century BC. C. or perhaps even the IV a. C. (other similar plates are generally later). This could be well explained by the fact of appearing in a building dedicated to the recycling of metal tools and utensils, the sheet being at that time just another metallic object, out of its original context ”.

“This site has one of the largest sets of texts written in Iberian in the entire Iberian Peninsula”, Quixal highlights. The town of Pico de los Ajos was inhabited at least from the 7th century BC. C. and later abandoned between the 1st centuries BC. C. and I d. C.

Pico de los Ajos de Yátova site (Valencia). / UV


Ferrer i Jané, Joan; Quixal Santos, David; Velaza Frías, Javier; Serrano Castellano, Ana; Mata Parreño, Consuelo; Pasíes Oviedo, Trinidad; Gallello, Gianni. “A small sheet of lead with Iberian inscription of archaic palaeography of Pico de los Ajos (Yátova, Valencia)”. Veleia, 2021.

Rights: Creative Commons.

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