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Diadema o ceñidor de Charilla (Alcalá la Real, Jaén, España). (Modelo 3D)

Diadem of Charilla (Alcalá la Real, Jaén, Spain) (Model 3D)

The base of this diadem is a fine, rectangular gold plate; one triangular plate is soldered to each end of this central plate. The triangular pieces end in a ring. The base-plate is finely engraved with vegetal motifs. The central rectangular space is divided into five rectangles and crowned by a row of sixteen triangles. The two triangular ends are decorated with a twisted gold thread, which forms a circle near the base of the triangle.

The central plate has been divided into five rectangles. In the centre of each rectangle, there is an oval cabochon and a coloured glass bead framed by an oval of twisted gold thread, four soldered spheres, a row of smaller soldered buttons and a square of gold thread. The base of the central rectangle, opposite the row of triangles, is decorated by five circles of gold thread located immediately below the cabochons. These circles present a central perforation, which according to A.B. Haro (2004) probably indicates the insertion of additional decorative elements. Each of the five rectangular spaces into which the central plate is divided is framed by gold thread, as is the main rectangular itself; this gives the false impression that a double thread has been used. The edges of the two triangular plates at the ends have been decorated with a double thread, except for the base, where a single thread forms a zig-zag line which serves as the base for a triangular with a circle inside.

This diadem was among the pieces discovered by chance in 1977 in the vicinity of the hamlet of Charilla (Alcalá la Real, Jaén). No contextual information for it exists. The diadem was found alongside other silver and gold jewellery – four perforated dirhams, three of which were dated to the reign of Abd al-Rahman III (one to 332H/942 and two to 334H/943) and one which was dated to the reign of al-Hakam II (360H/970) – and a fragment of common pottery which may have been used to hide the hoard. The presence of coins has facilitated the dating of the hoard.

Other assemblages of jewellery and coins from the caliphate have been found in Ermita Nueva (Alcalá la Real, Jaén), La Mora (Lucena, Córdoba), Loja (Granada), and Lorca (Murcia).

Historical and social context
Hiding valuables is a typical response to periods of crisis and social and economic instability, and it is generally not possible to ascertain who was behind the hoard; however, based on the content of hoards and their context, hypotheses can sometimes be put forward. In general, hoards reflect conflicts that persisted over a certain period of time, as these conflicts would have prevented the owner of the items from coming back for them. The double hoard of Marroquíes Bajos, which we mentioned earlier, is another example of a hoard that was deposited owing to this sort of situation.

This present hoard is of particular importance because of the presence of jewellery. Jewels are not rare, but generally they are in a fragmentary state or broken; in these cases, the standard interpretation is that they were being hoarded before they were to be taken to the mint to be melted and exchanged for new money, or else sold to a merchant for the same purpose. In some of these hoards the jewels can be dated, because of the presence of coins, to the crisis of the emirate, in the late 9th century, or to that which led to the end of the Umayyad caliphate in the early 11th century. In this particular case, however, the chronology of the coins does not fall in a period of instability. Also, the perforation of the coins indicate that they may have served as ornaments . This tells us that even if the coins are dated to the 10th century, the pieces were hidden at a later time.

Also, the jewels are in good condition, which means we must reject the possibility that they were being hoarded prior to melting them. The jewels probably belonged to a wealthy woman. The reason that they were hidden is impossible to ascertain.

Material: Gold and precious stones
Dimensions: Length= 21.6 cm; Width= 4.6 cm
Chronology: 10th century


HARO, A.B. (2004) “Conjunto de Charilla un nuevo estudio”, Arqueología y Territorio Medieval 11.1. pp. 115-123.

HARO, A.B (2005) “La numismática como elemento datador de los conjuntos de joyería califal”. En Alfaro, C.; Marcos, C.; Otero, P. (coords) XIII Congreso Internacional de Numismática. Vol. 2. Madrid, pp. 1587-1592.

ZOZAYA, J. (1995) “Tesoro de Charilla” en VV.AA. El zoco: vida económica y artes tradicionales en al-Andalus y Marruecos. Legado Andalusí. Madrid. p. 95.

V.V.A.A. (2016): "Diadema o ceñidor de Charilla. (Alcalá la Real, Jaén)" en El Museo de Jaén y el Proyecto Europeo CEMEC. Jaén. 72-75.

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