The Olp at the threshold of the Afterlife is an exceptional piece in the Iberian world, because it is the most complete testimony that we know of what the Iberians believed about the journey to the Afterlife. It is dated to the 1 c. BC and it was found in the Poble Nou cemetery in Villajoyosa.
The importance of archaeology in this context lies in the impossibility of knowing the Iberian culture through its writings. We know they had their writing, but the longer texts we keep are short lead sheet commercial contracts and stone grave markers. Archaeologists understand some words, but there is no literature, so their inscriptions are not expected to tell us much of their beliefs when they are deciphered. For this reason, Iberian painted ceramics are so important, because sometimes they "speak" to us about these beliefs and customs. Many of them are full of symbology and even scenes.
The decoration of this Olp, like the Egyptian "Book of the Dead" is a guide for the deceased on the journey to the Afterlife. In the Olp there is a dove (animal of the mother goddess carrying souls, the precedent of our angels) that flies through an idyllic forest with vines or ivies and the tree of life, they are very old symbols that represent the immortality of the soul. The dove rises to the sky among the stars by the seven- step ladder to finally reach the door of the world of the dead. The seven- step ladder is an ancient symbol that is related to the “Jacob’s Ladder” of the Bible. The dove is represented twice, like the in cartoons, on its way to the heaven; the soul passes through to reach the dead’s door, where those who deserved goes inside to Paradise and where Saint Peter would be waiting for us today according to the Catholic religion.
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Poble Nou Necropolis
Height: 133 mm; diam. boca: 81 mm; diam. base: 39 mm
Nº inv. Vilamuseu 014924