When the Archaeological Museum was set up in 1879, the Museum objects consisted of the first remains found at Atarfe (Granada), belonging to the ancient emirate-caliphate city of Medina Elvira (8th to 11th century) and others from different periods, such as the findings in different late Roman tombs from Ventas de Zafarraya (Granada), which were donated to the Granada Monuments Committee, officially handed over on 3 January 1880.
The Museum has a large number of pieces of extraordinary value and singularity which could be called "works of art", and a multitude of everyday objects. Each piece represents its social environment, the people who have used them, the caves, houses, towns or cities that have served as a form of expression in political, economic, family or spiritual life.
In Hall 1, the visitor can gain an understanding of the slow process of human evolution and expansion throughout our land in the Paleolithic Age, from the Orce Homo Erectus (1,200,000 BC approximately) to Homo Sapiens Neanderthalensis in the Cueva de la Carigüela, Piñar (60,000 BC approx.),the fauna which existed at the same time (rhinoceros, horses or felines in hot periods and mammoths or deer in cold periods), and the lithic industry made by these predatory men who survived from hunting, fishing and picking fruit (bifacial heart-shaped stone tool from the Solana de Zamborino de Fonelas, or bifacial lageniform stone tool (in the shape of a bottle) of the Cortijo de Calvillo in Fuente Carnacho de Loja).
In Hall II, you can see how man, through agriculture, achieved in the "Neolithic Revolution", which arrived in the Peninsula in approximately 5,000 BC, passed from a predatory life to a productive life, although the humans of the Neolithic period still lived in caves. Decorated ceramics appeared at this time(cardial and incised pottery) such as those in the Cueva de la Carigüela, Piñar and the Cueva de la Mujer, Alhama and those from the open-air sites of La Molaina, Pinos Puente or la Peña de los Gitanos, Montefrío. The lithic industry changed to polished tools although it coexisted with the carved stone and bone instruments. Soon the Neolithic period fused with the Copper or Chalcolithic Age (3,000 to 2,000 BC approx.) with the appearance of the towns and collective burial sites from very different cultures: the Megalithic, los Millares and the Bell Beaker culture. Objects of great value were discovered such as the marble idol of El Malagón, Cúllar-Baza, the exclusive idol engraved on a dolmen in Fonelas, or the extraordinary esparto pieces and the gold diadem from the Cueva de los Murciélagos, Albuñol, and the bell beakers of Cerro de la Virgen, Orce.
The Bronze Age (Hall III), is characterised by the influence of the El Argar culture, from the Almanzora basin, in the Initial and Full Bronze Age (1,900 to 1,200 BC approx.), and from the Cogotas culture in the Final Bronze Age (1,200-1,000 BC approx.) Walls were built around the populated areas as in Cerro de la Encina in Monachil, Castellón Alto in Galera, Cuesta del Negro in Purullena or Cerro de los Infantes in Pinos Puente. During this period, there were individual burial sites with the bodies placed in a foetal position; these were accompanied by plain or metal encrusted ceramics (Cerro de los Infantes in Pinos Puente), of various types (in a vault, grave, and in large vessels or pithos).The mining and metallurgic industry thrived as can be seen in the foundry mould in Cuesta del Negro in Purullena and the bronze utensils and weapons from Cerro de la Mora in Moraleda de Zafayona or Peña de los Gitanos in Montefrío.
In the lower gallery of the patio, a tour can be made of the Roman epigraphs in the province.
In Hall IV, we can find the marks left by the Eastern colonizers (Phoenicians, Greeks and Carthaginians) who brought, from the 7th century BC, the Mediterranean wine and olive cultivation, coins and writing to the Iberian people. In Almuñecar, you can find the marvellous Punic remains of the Necropolis of la Laurita, with Egyptian alabastrons or oinochoes and Greek kotyle, and the amazing Greek shield found in the underground Cueva del Jarro. Native Iberian culture is recalled in the painted ceramic with almagra, the lionesses of Daragoleja, Trasmulas, and the iron weapons and utensils of the Mirador de Rolando, Granada.
The incorporation of the Baetica in the Roman Empire began from the 2nd century BC, and it was one of the provinces which was most Romanized, adopting its customs, culture, religion, social, political and economic structure (recall the Mediterranean triad: wheat, wine, olive). In Hall V, all these aspects are represented, surviving until the 5th century AD, through El Togado de Periate, a magnificent bronze figure found in Piñar, the marble sculptures from Almuñecar, the thermal baths (Fiche Talará), and the many types of wine and olive amphorae, the lead anchor stocks and terra sigillata ceramics of Cartuja in Granada,
Hall VI is a small sample of the Late Antiquity period (5th-8th century BC), in which the development of Christianity and the decline of the Roman Empire are combined; we can also see the birth of the Visigothic kingdom. Items of special note from these stages are the bricks decorated with a religious theme, used in the ceiling, with funerary and commemorative tombstones, carved partitions and rich gold and silver articles represented by the brooches and fibulae of the Necropolis of Marugan in Atarfe. The passing of the Visigothic period to the Muslim period, after the conquest from 711, materialised with the Visigothic-Mozarab tombstones of Reconsindus and Ciprianus of Medina Elvira in Atarfe.
The rich Hispano-Muslim stage is represented in Hall VII, and we stop there due to its direct relationship with the "Route of the Caliphate". Our Museum guards the pieces discovered in the emirate-caliphate city (8th-10th century) of Medina Elvira (Atarfe), capital (hadira) of the province of the same name and which links Córdoba by the caliphate bridge of Pinos Puente. At the end of the 19th century, a large number of bronze and ceramic pieces were found. These objects were acquired by Manuel Gómez-Moreno González for the Monuments Committee. Among the bronze obejcts, we can point out the lámparas de platillo from the main mosque and the light holders and lamps from other parts of the city. We can divide the Medina Elvira ceramics in two large blocks: the common and the green and manganese "verde y manganeso" also named Madinat al-Zahra or Medina Elvira pottery. The common block is formed by the everyday pieces which were unglazed or glazed with one colour, and the"verde y manganeso" comprises the glazed pieces in these colours. The glazingwas obtained by applying a layer of engobe of various metallic oxides to the fired ceramics which during the second firing were transformed, creating a vitreous layer of various colours. The final colour achieved depended on the oxide applied (the lead oxide was converted into melado (honey), the lead oxide mixed with iron oxide formed green, and the manganese oxide turned to purple). From the green and manganese ceramics found in Medina Elvira, three pieces stand out: The "jarro de las Liebres" (jug with hare) the "ataifor del Caballo" (ataifor with horse) and the "ataifor del Halconero" (ataifor with falconer).
The Taifa kingdoms are also represented in the Museum (11th century) as well as the Almoravid and Almohad periods (11th-13th century) and the Nasrid period in Granada (13th-15th century). Worth special mention in the Nasrid period are the remains of the facade of the Arab hospital or Maristan in Granada, founded by Yusuf I in 1349, and the astrolabe made by Ibn Zawal in 1481, inspired in the Hispano-Muslim culture.
In the upper gallery, a selection of Roman, Visigothic and Hispano-Muslim column caps are exhibited (emirate, caliphate, Almohad and Nasrid).