The talking pieces
Iberian sculpture (the “Warrior’s Torso”)
Reference number: LA-884
Late 5th century, early 4th century BCE
A fragment of a larger sculpture in local limestone of which only the torso remains. It represents an Iberian warrior wearing a luxurious panoply, which includes a cuirass or kardiophylax relief-decorated with a wolf’s head that emerges from the metal tondo that surrounds it. In this exquisitely crafted and chiselled piece, the different materials of the original sculpture can be seen: a V-neck linen shirt covering the body; the leather straps – decorated with acorns between meandering lines – that connected the front and rear metal tondos, and even the metal rivets are perfectly identified. The waist is encircled by a plate belt, decorated with a geometric motif of interlocking scrolls. This piece is one of the most important Iberian statues
Iberian griffin sculpture
Reference number: LA-688
Late 5th century, early 4th century BCE
This fragment of an Iberian sculpture appeared on 19 September 1949, next to the one known as the Warrior’s Torso, as part of the paving of a street excavated in the southwestern area of the site by Alejandro Ramos. It represents a griffin, a fantastic hybrid animal with an eagle’s head and a lion’s body. Only the head remains; its right side is very eroded, while the left side is in good condition. It has prominent eyes and pointed ears, as well as a dorsal crest and feathers, which prove that it is half eagle. These fantastic creatures were usually part of the heroa, sculptural ensembles of legendary battles between heroes and fantastic beasts, which in this case are called grifomachias.
Reference number: LA-1762
Late 2nd century, first half of the 1st century BCE
This large vase, made of local ceramic with Ilici-style painted decoration, corresponds to a pithos. What is striking is the decoration, which covers a large part of its surface. On one side, a young man is shown wearing a doublet and covering his hair with a hairnet. His right hand is holding a spear pointing to the ground, and with the other he catches the tongue of a fierce beast – similar to an idealized wolf – he has tamed without effort. The reverse is occupied by a large bird – perhaps a raptor – with open wings and a long, sharp beak. The iconographic reading of the vase refers to a heroic and / or initiatory action to become a warrior; the one who subdues the forces of nature (of earth, air or plants), represented during germination.
“Peponas vase” or “Tonta del Bote vase”
Reference number: LA-1779
First half of the 1st century BCE
This large vase, made of local painted ceramic, is one of the most representative examples of the so-called Ilici style. It was recovered between 1943 and 1944 by Alejandro Ramos Folqués in the excavations undertaken in the north-eastern area of the site. Formally speaking, it is a fully decorated calathos from the advanced period. The motifs are figurative and appear on three horizontal friezes, where mythical animals are depicted in the Ilici style: wolves and birds together with exuberant vegetation sprouting everywhere. The space under the two semilunar handles is occupied by two female faces whose bright cheeks indicate that they are chthonic goddesses. Hence why it is called the “Peponas vase” or the “Tonta del Bote vase”: one of the women bore a resemblance to the protagonist of a 1939 film by Gonzalo Delgrás titled La tonta del bote (‘The fool’). However, A. Ramos Folqués stated that both images depicted the Punic goddess Tanit.
“Tabula of Ilici”
Reference number: LA-2102
Late 1st century BCE
This bronze piece with a Latin inscription is one of the most historically valuable exhibits in the La Alcudia Museum. It is a fragment of a Roman land registry document, forged in bronze, which was part of a longer document. It has a hole in the upper right part that was used to fix it to the wall, as it could very possibly be displayed at the forum, on an arcade. The piece contains the names of ten of the city’s settlers and their corresponding plots of land, referring to the cardines and decumani. Likewise, it also provides information on the places of origin of those retired soldiers, who received lands in Ilici as rewards from Rome.
Reference number: LA-2342
Late 2nd century, first half of the 1st century BCE
This is one of the most significant Hellenistic mosaics with epigraphic signs found on the Iberian Peninsula. It appeared in 1959 while Alejandro Ramos was excavating the eastern area of the site to enlarge the museum. It has tesserae of various types (some are made of stone and coloured in red, black and white) and ceramic fragments, possibly cut from amphoras. These materials were used to create geometric motifs, with scrolled, checkered or floral designs or depicting architectural works, like a wall with turrets and merlons. But the relevance of this exhibit lies in the epigraphic signs that accompany it, names of indigenous origin written in Latin script, which is evidence of the early Roman acculturation in the city of Ilici.
“Cantharus of Ilici”
Reference number: LA-2370
Last quarter of the 1st century BCE
This unique vase has been extensively studied since its discovery in the basement of an early imperial domus in 1988. It was part of a facility to store ritual objects. The ceramic container is a cantharus, made in Ilici’s local pottery workshops and decorated with three characters: on one side, a winged goddess with trees; on the next side, two men shown in profile, with protective serpents. While the interpretations of its iconography are varied, all of them coincide that it has great documentary value, as it provides an account of a transcendent event that took place in Iulia Ilici Augusta around the time the colony was founded in the year 26 BCE.
“Lamp with horses”
Reference number: LA-3059
Second quarter of the 1st century CE
This lamp appeared in 1956 while excavating a Roman house in the south-eastern area of the site, near the spot where the Lady of Elche was discovered. It is a magnificent example of a Dressel 12, double-nozzled volute lamp, with a leaf-shaped plastic handle and two attachments with equine heads. This imported piece is exceptional, as evidenced by the type of ceramic with which it was made, glazed in green, which imitated bronze lamps of the same type.
Fragment of Roman sculpture in white marble
Reference number: LA-3522
Between the 1st and 2nd centuries CE, early imperial era
This figurine, just five centimetres high, depicts an owl with its wings partly open. The bird is perched on a hand broken at the wrist, and some of the fingers are also missing. It is believed to have belonged to a minor statue of Minerva, a name given by the Romans to the Greek goddess Athena, whose symbol is the European little owl or Athene noctua. These sculptures were usually placed in domestic settings.
Baking mould with lion
Reference number: LA-3539
2nd-3rd century CE
This clay piece has a circular shape and an attachment on the front to press it onto soft material. It is a signa pistoris or baker’s stamp, an object with raised-relief decoration that was used to mark bread intended for celebrations or festivities in religious commemorations. The tondo that can be seen on the mould is dominated by the figure of a naturalistic lion, with a tree branch above and, below, a plant resembling a bud of a broadseed poppy. The composition must be interpreted in allegorical terms.
Reference number: LA-247
Mid-2nd century, second half of the 3rd century CE
This complete bowl was casually discovered during an inhumation in Santa Pola, in the western area of the old cemetery, near the Portus Illicitanus. It was donated to the La Alcudia Museum together with a common ceramic jar and a fragment of the edge of a glass lachrymatory, a set of grave goods found in a tomb dated to the 3rd century CE.
The shape, inspired by metal tableware, is cylindrical, with a double moulding profile at the edge and a simple profile at the base. By means of a mould, a decorated frieze is obtained that occupies the entire external surface, where the labours of Hercules are depicted in continuous scenes. While this vase is unique, the figures have lost definition and the brownish varnish has little adherence, especially inside.
Baking mould with flock
Reference number: LA-3554
3rd century CE
This clay object has a lenticular shape and internal relief decoration depicting a pastoral landscape scene, in a city that seems to have North African architecture, drawn in perspective. This mould was used to bake crustulum, pastries made from a malleable edible material – fruit, quince or must – that adhered to the internal folds in sunken relief. When removed, it was an appetising pastry with raised shapes or scenes. According to ancient sources, they were handed out as gifts at public events.
Set of silver toiletry items
Reference number: LA-3200
3rd and 4th centuries CE
These three silver objects, a mirror, a makeup palette and a dispenser, were found at the bottom of a spring well that was no longer usable. When Alejandro Ramos recovered them in the eastern area of the site in 1952, he pointed out that the items still kept the piece of cloth with which they had been wrapped in the past. These objects, used for women’s personal grooming, were accompanied by tableware utensils, such as spoons or ligulae and a colum or strainer, all of them of the same precious metal. The handle of the mirror is decorated to represent Hercules’ club, and the makeup palette still preserves the pink, blue, black and white pigments on an exquisitely crafted, eagle-shaped silver foil. The dispenser was possibly part of the tableware set; another possibility is that it was used to contain sieved powders.
Reference number: LA-4391
Second half of the 6th and 7th centuries CE
This architectural piece was recovered in scattered fragments, rebuilt and adapted in different ways over time. The fragments were found at two different times: in 1905, during the excavations undertaken by Eugène Albertini, when the basilica was discovered; and, from 1948 onwards, in the excavations carried out by Alejandro Ramos in and around the same area. Several theories have been proposed about the purpose of this piece: a window lattice, an openwork chancel screen or a fenestrella confessionis, among others. There are several types of fragments: geometric (with architectural decoration), zoomorphic, and the rectangular slats that frame the windows or gates. This one is zoomorphic and represents a bovine next to something that looks like a plant.
Lady of Elche by Ignacio Pinazo (reproduction)
Reference number: LA-11.814
The bust of the Lady of Elche you can see at the Interpretation Centre is a coloured plaster copy acquired by the La Alcudia Foundation from the Louvre Museum in February 2008. The copy was cast from a 1907 reproduction made by the Valencian sculptor Ignacio Pinazo at the Louvre, when he worked there copying the original, kept at the French museum. Other reproductions by Pinazo are found in the British Museum, the Spanish Society, New York’s Metropolitan Museum, or Valencia’s Fine Arts Society, among others.