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Iruña-Veleia revisited

November 30, 2008

Back in August, I was lucky enough to be taken on a guided tour of Iruña-Veleia, a Roman oppida in El Pais Vasco, northern Spain. I posted some pictures and a very brief blurb about the site in this entry. One of the things I mentioned (although have since edited) was the claim that artefacts from the site included the oldest known depiction of the crucifixion, and the the oldest-known inscriptions in Basque. This was information I lifted uncritically from news stories about the site and from the Spanish and English Wikipedia entries , and which this week was revealed to be false. Indeed it appears that an archaeological hoax has been perpetrated.

Here is a link to the story in The Guardian.

I take this as a lesson, and shall certainly be more careful about the evidential traceability of claims I refer to on this blog.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Lacorzana permalink
    December 1, 2008 12:09 am

    Hi!

    Even here, in Spain, there are still quite a strong division. The (sorry, I´m not used to write in this English) report of the Commision of experts has not been made public still, so we dont know still in what proofs have based their conclussions.

    Most of the things that have been made public have been corrected by the now ex-director of the site, revealing that in some points ther could be multiple ways of reading the most shocking words. The RIP may not be it, but a crossing of three vertical rays over some more scratches, and the Descartes, can be read “miscart”(not quite impressive…). The glue in the broken Terra Sigilata needs no explanation in Archeology, I suppose. Breacked pottery doesn´t stand back again alone…

    Also, he, after reading the whole report, denounced that only 10 out of 25 experts are clearly on the “fake” side, and that he wanted to do more phisical and chemical proofs to clear the antyquity of the graffitti, but seems that those haven´t been done. Seemed that to the politics was enough to kick of the site the actual team, and increase the money over 12 times (!) for a future team composed by Basque University staff (where most critics experts of the commision teach). All this seemed quite irregular to me.

    We have still a lot more of Iruña-Veleia “affaire”, believe me. No “side” has published still nothing (!) and the ex-director of the site is not a newcomer, he is a proffesional archeologist with more than 20 years of experience on his shoulders, and a lot to lost if all this is proved fake.

    If you want to get some more news, just write me, I´ll try to do the best. This whole thing is worth a place in History, fake or true. Keep an eye!

  2. matthewlaw permalink*
    December 1, 2008 7:39 pm

    Wow, thank you so much for that response. I shall certainly be keeping an eye on what happens. Either way it’s an important story, and I liked Iruña-Veleia when I visited, so I’m very interested to know if there’s a resolution.

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