The first Iberian lead plate found in a regulated excavation in the Pico de los Ajos in Yátova is in archaic writing

By 11 junio, 2021Arts and Humanities

A multidisciplinary research team from the University of Valencia (UV), the Prehistory Museum of Valencia (MPV) and the University of Barcelona (UB) has published a study detailing their discovery and interpretation of a lead plate with Iberian writing, the first one obtained in a regulated excavation in Pico de los Ajos (Yátova), one of the most important Iberian sites. This sheet, of archaic writing and an unknown theme, has been able to be phonetically transcribed and advances our knowledge of Iberian culture. Lead plate with Iberian inscription

Many of the lead sheets come from looting and not from regulated excavations. Thus, the plate studied by the research group that includes Consuelo Mata, David Quixal and Gianni Gallello, from the Department of Prehistory, Archaeology and Ancient History, and Ana Serrano, a graduate of the Master of Archaeology at the UV, represents one of the few and the first from this site to be obtained in an excavation. Thanks to this, it has been possible to study it within a known context, both temporal and spatial. The study has been published in the journal Veleia.

The lead plate was found bent. Fortunately, after cleaning and adapting it at the MPV, it could be interpreted palaeographically by specialists Joan Ferrer and Javier Velaza, from the UB. It has writing on both sides and forms a single text, with specialists being able to identify Iberian symbols of known sound. In addition, it is worth noting that it was written between the fourth and third centuries BC, while other similar plates generally date back to later centuries. The interesting aspect is that its archaeological discovery has occurred in a later context, from the second and fist centuries BC, at which time lead had lost its original function and was just another metal to be recycled, along with other metal tools. Regarding the subject matter of the text, its commercial or administrative nature is ruled out, so one hypothesis is that it could be a religious text.

“This site has one of the largest sets of texts written in Iberian on the entire peninsula”, says David Quixal. The sheets of lead used as writing support are relatively common in the deposits of the Iberian culture. The Pico de los Ajos, a town located in the town of Yátova, was inhabited at least since the 7th century BC. and later abandoned between the first century BC and the first AC.

However, although it has been studied phonetically, the message contained in this sheet is still not clear and, therefore, neither is the context in which it should be placed. “Iberian is a language that still cannot be translated, but which experts are making gradual progress to identify words and this helps to interpret what type of texts they were”, explains David Quixal, professor of Archaeology and one of the authors of the article. In fact, in this piece it has been possible to identify the name of a person, tořaibeleś, with strong certainty. This person would presumably be the author of the text or the one who commissioned it.


Article: Ferrer i Jané, Joan; Quixal Santos, David; Velaza Frías, Javier; Serrano Castellano, Ana; Mata Parreño, Consuelo; Pasíes Oviedo, Trinidad; Gallello, Gianni (2021), «Una pequeña lámina de plomo con inscripción ibérica de paleografía arcaica del Pico de los Ajos (Yátova, València)», Veleia, 38, 91-109. DOI: