Music & Ritual: Bridging Material & Living Cultures

Publications of the ICTM Study Group on Music Archaeology, Vol. 1

Vaccean Rattles: Toys or Magic Protectors?

Carlos Sanz Mínguez, Fernando Romero Carnicero, Roberto De Pablo Martínez, and Cristina Górriz Gañán

Vaccean rattles are small closed hollow artifacts made in clay or ceramics, with small clay lumps inside. Shaken, their clinking could have been used to entertain children, while at the same time, they might have also assumed a protective function for the afterlife for those to whom they were offered, regardless of their age or gender. This seems to be the conclusions of the study of the funerary contexts unearthed in the excavation works of the Vaccean-Roman necropolis of Las Ruedas, in Pintia, related to burials of undermined adult individuals (grave 93), adult males with weapons (grave 38), adult females (grave 154), pubescent girls (graves 127b and 153) and, less certainly, children (grave 90). Their excise decoration, with a 45º-knife-beveled technique, completes their preventive function and it is a characteristic of other peculiar Vaccean productions that also share this odd technique, such as small animal-shaped boxes, boats, simpula, votive feet, etc. Their morphological analysis allows the definition of six different groups: spherical, hemispherical, lenticular, cylindrical, reel and spindle-shaped rattles. Their chronology sets a framework that dates back from the 3rd century BC to the 1st century AD.

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