The golden earrings were located in the grave 2 and consist of two parts: one mid-sized, circular, open ring and a sort of hollow bell with triangular perforations. The base of the bell was covered by a flat plate, welded to the bell by a thin string and six buttons. The base is decorated with an alternating pattern of mouldings and circles, within which the precious stones (of which only some survive) were set. The largest stone, which does not survive, was located at the centre of the base. Both the bell and the circle have a flat section and are decorated with four gold drops. One end of the open ring has a small shackle and the other a screw that fits into the shackle.
These pieces are part of a funerary assemblage discovered during the excavations carried out in Cerro Salido, La Guardia (Jaén) in November 1954. The excavations documented a necropolis with 22 tombs, most of which had been plundered (only seven were undisturbed). Tomb number 2, where the earrings and the belt buckle were found, was covered by large stone slabs, and it contained the remains of a single person. The earrings were found on either side of the head and the buckle next to the feet. Three of the tombs were lined with bricks and were covered by tegulae. The rest of the tombs only yielded an arrowhead, a knife blade, a copper ring and a glass bead.
In 1992 J.R. Villa carried out a new survey of the area, which distinguished two burial areas: area A, with ‘multiple’ anthropomorphic burials cut into the rock and no particular orientation (the orientation of each tomb was adapted to the shape of the rock) and area B, which corresponds to the tombs excavated in 1954.
Historical and social context
The aearrings, along with a belt buckle were used by the deceased during life, and were not intended to be enjoyed in the afterlife. The quality of the items suggests that the interred person was very wealthy. The absence of grave goods in other burials and the overall similarity of all tombs in the necropolis indicates, however, that a sense of equality after death, which was promoted by Christianity and was absent from earlier necropoleis, was gaining ground. Naturally, prestigious graves continued to exist to distinguish members of the elite, but the number of people able to afford them was certainly decreasing. Christianity, in addition, was by this stage firmly in place, and there was no longer any need to make public displays of Christian faith in funerary structures.
FERNANDEZ-CHICARRO, C. (1954) “Prospección arqueológica en los términos de Hinojares y la Guardia (Jaén)” Boletín del Instituto de Estudios Giennenses, nº 6, pp. 82-102.
PALOL, P. De. (1955-1956) “Hallazgos Hispanovisigodos en la provincia de Jaén”. Ampurias (XVII-XVIII), pp. 286-302.
V.V.A.A. (2016): "Pendientes y broche de cinturón. Cerro Salido. La Guardia (Jaén)" en El Museo de Jaén y el Proyecto Europeo CEMEC. Jaén. 46-49.
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