Christie’s London May, 2013 This magnicificent Celto-Iberian bracelet estimated at $60,000-90,000 was the star lot, selling for ten times estimate at $804,780!
Found in Portalegre in Portugal, it is probably the only example of its type still in private hands. A similar piece was found in nearby Estremoz and is now in the National Museum of Madrid. This type of bracelet reflects the technological changes that occurred at the beginning of the Iron Age, -Tools made : new, high-temperature furnaces designed for iron production made it easier to melt large amounts of gold, and tools made of iron were sharper, more precise, and more durable than those of copper alloy with the new and sharper iron tools.
A similar bracelet worn by a gypsy woman led archaeologists to an ancient trove of gold; a three thousand year old treasure which altered the entire concept of prehistoric civilization in western Europe. The treasure consists of bracelets, bowls and flagons, all of intricately worked pure gold; and one of mixed metals a flagon of iron with gold overlay--unique in Europe. Most significant, the workmanship is distinctly western European, without any parallel whatsoever to the goldsmith’s art of the early Aegean civilizations with which it was contemporary. This is now believed to be Celto Iberian. The Celts had a strong presence in Spain.
Tesoro de Villena
In 1963, in the Spanish town of Villena a, jeweler admired a similar bracelet on the arm of on a young gypsy woman , When he examined the heavy cuff more closely, he saw that it was pure solid and heavy gold, weighing a pound. He summoned the director of Villena’s museum of archaeology, Jose Maria Soler to investigate. The woman told him that her husband had found it in a pile of sand being used to mix concrete. A month later another gypsy woman was seen wearing a similar bracelet.
She insisted it was a family treasure but when Soler examined her ”heirloom” he saw that like the other bracelet, it bore fresh traces of soil. Believing the gypsies had accidentally uncovered a prehistoric find, the archaeologist obtained legal permission to confiscate both pieces until their origin could be determined. Soon after, the husband of the second gypsy, confessed he had found both while working a gravel quarry and volunteered to help the archaeologists.
Soler and his team began to dig—but no luck. One day, when they were about to give up for the day, one of the men discovered yet another heavy gold bracelet which was soon followed by a huge pottery jar filled to the brim with gold.
An inventory of the jar revealed an impressive haul: sixty eight separate pieces including five flagons, twenty-eight bracelets and two sword handles. The total weight of the gold treasure was over twenty-two pounds, the heaviest yet unearthed. One bracelet alone weighed more than a pound. The jar had been so skillfully packed that not an inch of space was wasted. This fact, plus the great depth suggests that it was a king’s treasure which had been buried for safekeeping. Evidence of fire in the soil around the spot indicated that a building once stood there, perhaps a royal palace which was set ablaze in the course of a battle
The question is, what king? Soler theorized it was one of the petty rulers in southern Spain during the late Bronze Age and that, like other kings, he had his own private army and goldsmith According to Homer, Mycenaean kings (of the same period)ate from dishes of silver and gold. The golden bowls and flagons were probably royal tableware.