Elche council continues to push forward in its campaign to return the figure of the Dama de Elche back to the location in which this emblematic Iberian sculpture was originally discovered and ensure that what would undoubtedly become the star attraction of the municipality finds a new home in the municipal museum
This week the council of the Ayuntamiento de Elche (Alicante) formally approved an institutional declaration requesting that the Ministry of Culture return the Dama and also reinstate the subsidies formerly give to the celebrations of the Misteri d’Elx, the annual Mystery plays which were stopped two years ago.
The Dama de Elche was found close to Elche or Elx, which falls within the Comunidad Valenciana, or Autonomous Community of Valencia, in the late 19th century about 2km south of the city centre, and dates from the Iberian period of occupation, ( see full report in Murcia for more information about the Iberians)which loosely covers the middle of the 6th century BC until around 50 years before Christ was born. The Iberians were an indigenous population, and maintained their own identity and culture before gradually absorbing Roman customs, practices and technology, losing their own unique identity as a distinct culture just before the beginning of the 1st century AD.
The Dama de Elche is one of the most important pieces of Iberian art ever discovered , hence the reason she is included in the national collection in the National Archaeological Museum in Madrid.
It is likely that the original Dama de Elche was part of a funerary process, as similar figures, although not of the quality of this one, have been found in parallel contexts, and the piece gives important details to those studying this culture about clothing, jewellery, fashion and the role of women in the 4th century BC, from when this piece is believed to date.
When the piece was originally discovered in 1897 it was sold to a French collector, who shipped it to Paris and displayed it in the Louvre, before it was hidden during the war for safekeeping. In 1941 a deal was made between the French and Spanish governments to bring it back to Spain, and it remains in Madrid, in spite of a determined campaign on the part of the Valencian authorities to bring it back to Elche and Valencia.
In 2006, the Dama was temporarily brought to Elche and displayed in the municipal museum, becoming a major tourist attraction during her stay.
Image: National Archaeological Museum, Madrid
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