A Bronze Age woman buried in Spain wore a symbol of her wealth and power on her head: an elegant silver crown.
The silver circlet was one of several dozen precious items found in the woman's tomb, which she shared with a male adult. The tomb sits in the La Almoloya plateau, located in southeastern Spain. Between about 2200 B.C. and 1550 B.C., this site was a bustling political center, with multiple residential complexes and tombs.
La Almoloya was first discovered in 1944, and seems to have been the seat of the Bronze Age El Argar civilization, which is known for its sophisticated bronze and ceramic artifacts. Now, researchers from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona have excavated dozens of new buildings and 50 new tombs at the site, including the joint tomb holding the silver circlet. [See Photos of the Bronze Age Tomb and Treasures]
That tomb stands out because the man and woman inside are curled into flexed positions and surrounded by precious and semi-precious objects, the archaeologists said.
In addition to the woman's tiara, the tomb contained silver rings, earrings and bracelets, as well as a bronze dagger nailed to its handle with silver fastenings. A delicate ceramic cup was gilded with silver on the rim and exterior, representing some of the earliest silverwork seen on such a vessel, the researchers reported.
The researchers also uncovered a metal punch and four ear dilators, which would have been used to stretch the earlobes after piercing.
The buildings found in La Almoloya are stone and mortar, with some stucco decorations. The site not only reveals Bronze Age construction techniques, but also hints at the political structure of the era, the researchers noted.
The treasure-filled tomb sits right next to another newly discovered structure, a high-ceiling hall about 750 square feet (70 square meters) in area. The hall is part of a palatial complex, which includes several other rooms. The archaeologists suspect it may have been the Bronze Age version of a courtroom or hearing room.