December 27, 2010

Excellent synthesis of the situation of the Iruña-Veleia controversy at Noticias de Alava

Historian Estitxu Briñas (also member of the SOS Iruña-Veleia association)  has today published an article at Noticias de Alava, in which the pitiful and highly embarrassing situation of the Iruña-Veleia scandal is synthesized masterfully.

Those readers with knowledge of Spanish language may want to read the original article: Iruña-Veleia: todavía estamos a tiempo. For the rest, I will try to synthesize here the main points.

Briñas congratulates for the cessation of the former Deputy (provincial minister) of Culture, Lorena López de Lacalle (on unrelated political issues) because she is clearly the main political actor in this shameful abuse. She expresses her hope that this circumstance offers an opportunity to straighten the wrongdoings of the last two years.

The first and main wrong was the Foral Order of November 19th 2008 by which the former archaeological company in charge of the Vasco-Roman urban site, Lurmen, saw its excavation permit removed, the site was closed and the state attorney is asked to proceed against the archaeologists.

It would be too long to describe the many irregularities in which the Provincial Government incurred in such fateful day, suffice to say that the decision was adopted when only one of the ten reports of the Commission had been handed in and that the final conclusions, included in little more than half a sheet, were written by a provincial public servant; these needed to be redacted before the meeting because they were given to Eliseo Gil [the chief archaeologist] at the exit and the signatory public servant was present in that meeting.

The fact that the judge in charge has been demanding for some time that scientific analysis of the exceptional findings are performed is clear indication that the alleged falsification is not proven at all.

She proposes that the Provincial Government sends the artifacts (mostly inscribed shards, in Basque and Vulgar Latin, along some drawings) to some European laboratory specialized in archaeometry.

She also says that the ten Commission's reports do not at any moment prove the alleged falsehood of the graffiti. (Actually most are only linguistic speculation with zero probatory value). In contrast, there are 16 reports, performed by prestigious scientists, that support that the artifacts are most likely genuine, including one by prestigious Bermudan archaeologist Edward C. Harris. These reports add up to 1800 pages have all been created altruistically without pocketing a single cent, while those of the Commission are of barely 400 pages and each one had a cost of €1800 to the taxpayer.

A further issue, denounced also by me, is the method of excavation of Julio Núñez, the new director of Iruña-Veleia and a member of the Commission (the only archaeologist in a mostly linguistic array of "experts"). As you may know Núñez mechanically excavated in few days a whole section of the site down to 1.5 meters, dumping all the archaeological layers without any consideration into rubbish piles, which cannot anymore produce an stratigraphy of any sort and even damaging some of the structures (see video below).

Also, Briñas informs us that SOS Iruña-Veleia has contacted a reputed European laboratory which would perform the analysis, with guarantee of conclusive results and no damage to the pieces, on ten key items for the price of €12,000, cost that SOS Iruña-Veleia offers to pay. This analysis could well be complementary to the one by scientific police, ordered by the judge but delayed by the Provincial Government, which has ignored the order. 

Finally, the historian retakes the question asked by the former Deputy López de Lacalle: how would the reputation of the University of the Basque Country end if a new commission of experts is called and new analysis are performed? Precisely that is the crux of the matter: how the Basque academy has been able to bring such a shame on themselves, not clarifying the doubts but performing a mere, corrupt, paperwork routine to make sure that the findings would be declared false without any evidence.

Further information in English:
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  1. Greetings Maju,

    After watching the video it is clear that there is no respect for culture, I can not understand how this large Roman complex is treated in this way. The profit motive of some rulers do so shameful that put their interests to those of culture. How sad it is to believe they are above the history of humanity.

  2. It's horrible but simple: Joseba Lakarra Andrinua is a pope of Basque linguistics (member of Euskaltzaindia, professor of the UPV-EHU). He has a theories, which are legitimate, I guess, but which might have been challenged by these findings. Soon after the findings, I knew from a corresponding academic, that there were rumors in the linguistic circles that challenged the validity of the findings on mere linguistic grounds.

    With Lakarra's influence and some free voluntary help by the Spanish pseudo-academic hordes, which are keen to claim that Basque was never spoken in the Western Basque Country before the Middle Ages (a total nonsense, as all pre-IE languages were surely related to Basque in all the wider region and we know that the Cantabri went to help "their relatives" the Aquitani against Caesar, and Navarre never had Basque as official language anyhow), the libel campaign gained strength.

    There are some other details as a false analytic (a person recommended by the Diputación grabbed the money) and the nefarious role of the Deputy of Culture López de Lacalle. But mostly it was a matter of a camarilla of linguists lead by said Lakarra, who thought that the texts were impossible.

    So after removing Lurmen, ruining the reputation of the archaeologists, they had to make sure that no other honest archaeologist could come and find more stuff of the same kind. So they appointed the only collaborationist archaeologist: Julio Núñez, the only archaeologist in the infamous "commission of experts" who simply began doing a quick dig to have something to show to the media and probably also destroying as much archaeological evidence as possible.

    Luckily this soon went "viral" through the net and Aralar, who supported the provincial government, began making questions and demanding that the destruction was stopped. So in a week or so they finally stopped, not without destroying a large area.

    The affair is now at an impasse, as López de Lacalle has be fired (on unrelated issues, namely the approach of her party, EA, to Batasuna - she begged to stay and I bet she would have changed parties if given the opportunity, but she was obviously a liability, so she was kicked anyhow). Now we do not know what the new Deputy will do.

    More info in label Iruña-Veleia in this blog and Leherensuge. Too long to discuss every detail, sorry. :)


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