Cámara Sepulcral de Toya (Peal de Becerro)

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Cámara Sepulcral de Toya (Peal de Becerro)

In 1909, near the hamlet of Toya, a resident of Peal de Becerro known as “El Pernazas” ("Tree-Trunk Legs") came across a number of large stones as he was working on the land. He could not have imagined what he was to discover lying beneath them: the tomb of a rich Iberian nobleman. El Pernazas ran home to tell his family, who went back with him to the tomb and removed the treasures that had lain there hidden for approximately 2,300 years. They extracted a number of vessels and decorative items that they quickly sold off cheaply in the village, and by the time an attempt was made to document the site and its grave goods it was already too late: the tomb had been repeatedly ransacked.

The site consists of three chambers, in which you can still see benches and ledges on which funerary urns and grave goods would have been placed. It measures a total of 12 m2 and consists of large ashlar blocks covered by a structure fashioned from large stones.

Little of its contents remained after the initial robberies, although we know that it once contained Greek pottery, weapons and a chariot. With this information we can reconstruct the moment in which this Iberian warrior was cremated and his ashes placed inside the tomb.

From 1400 to 400 BC there existed in the province of Jaén a number of oppida, or fortified settlements, of which several can be found close to the park: Castellones de Ceal, in Hinojares, and Bujalamé, in La Puerta de Segura. Next to these large settlements were other, smaller villages that were ruled by their larger counterparts. We can imagine the moment at which the nobleman was laid out on his funeral pyre, his servants placing the Greek pottery in his tomb along with different offerings, weapons and other metal items – even his chariot of war – as a sign of his status. Next to the pyre, envoys from the other settlements would have gathered, their heads bowed in submission towards this senior nobleman who would have ruled the large fortified towns while he was alive.

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