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           GRIFFON HEAD      
Cemetery of Cabezo Lucero
(Guardamar del Segura, Alicante)

h: 27.5 cm; w: 23 cm; d: 19 cm.
Second half of the 5th century – beginning of the 4th century BC.

Incomplete sculpture of a griffin head, in which part of the face with bulging eyes and the line of the mane marked by a large groove, are preserved. The jaws are open, and the tip of the upper lip and tongue are missing, broken in the past, which accentuate the ferocious expression that the griffin has. Around the mouth small folds of skin have been carved and inside the mouth details such as the teeth, though partly lost, can be seen. The other side of the sculpture is in a badly deteriorated condition.

In the Contestania area, sculptures are usually linked with the funerary world. In the cemeteries some of the tombs were marked by Stela Pillars which were often topped by animals such as bulls, or mythical creatures such as griffons or sphinxes. The griffon, as an inhabitant of the otherworld, was placed on top of the funerary monuments to guard the grave goods which were inside the tombs. Within Greek mythology, they are considered as the guardians of gold which the Arimaspi tried to steal. These mythical creatures are very closely linked with the heavenly gods, appearing in Greek iconography associated with the sun and are frequently seen pulling Apollo’s chariot. Therefore, because of their apotroaic character to ward off evil and their close relations with the heavenly gods, griffons were frequently chosen to guard over Iberian tombs.
In the Alicante Province there are a number of important examples of griffons such as the Griffin of Redován or the Griffon of La Alcudia de Elche. In the 4th century BC these carved representations were systematically destroyed. There are a number of theories on why this happened and one of the most accepted versions is that there was a spread of a new iconoclastic religious-ideological belief system.
C. S.: 5732


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