March 6, 2012

Series of four congresses to discuss the origins of Basques

Diario Vasco[es] and Noticias de Gipuzkoa[es] announce a congress for May 18th in Irun, which will be the beginning of a series of four such meetings discussing the origin of the Basques. The workshop has been named Atlantiar International Congress (where Atlantiar is Basque for Atlantic).

Among the participants will be:
  • linguist Theo Venneman, who has proposed a Vasconic language family spoken prior to Indoeuropean in Western Europe,
  • physician evolved into geneticist Stephen Oppenheimer,
  • Smithsonian Institute researchers Dennis Stanford y Margaret Jodry, who are still beating the dead horse of the Clovis-Solutrean hypothesis
  • Jose Antonio Mújica (UPV-EHU)
  • Andoni Tarriño (Atapuerca's CNIEH)
  • Xabier Peñalver (prestigious archaeologist and President of Aranzadi Society of Sciences)
What can I say? I would totally have ignored Standford and Jodry and would have looked for better (even if less hyped) geneticists than Oppenheimer. Also while Atapuerca is no doubt interesting, there's not much that particular site has to say about Basque origins specifically. 

But well, some people may still find it interesting. For me Venneman and Peñalver look the really interesting people here (unsure which is the specialty of Mújica, sought for him in Eccelio Science and got no results), unless you are deep into Neanderthals, Antecessors and such, in which case Tarriño is surely the man. 

The congress has been organized by Navarrese photographer Xabi Otero.

Further congresses will deal with Neolithic-Metals (late prehistory), Antiquity and Middle Ages and Modern Age respectively.

Hat tip to Pileta[es].


  1. "the dead horse of the Clovis-Solutrean hypothesis" will be well funded as long as euro N Americans yearn for an antidote for the guilt associated with their colonial past. Scientific evidence is irrelevant. But why on Earth these people were invited to a Basque conference is a mystery to me.

  2. @Andrew: thanks for asking because there is one and I had missed it:

    I'll post a translated synthesis because there are more interesting participants such as Jean Clottes. My apologies for the sloppiness...

    @Jean: my feeling is that the vast majority (and I mean like 99.99%) of Basques do not generally have much idea on their own or general European prehistory and that the few that do are not high level (with a handful of exceptions probably).

    The organizer seems an aficionado and the overall scope excessively broad, so I guess it could be better but it's not like this kind of workshops happen often so it's still something.

  3. Guess what: Standford is member of the organizer committee and I can only imagine he (or Standford University or the Smithsonian Institute) has paid for at least a good deal of the expenses in order to have his pet theory promoted.

    Otherwise the contents look at least somewhat interesting and the inscription fee is accessible (€50). My main problem is that there is no direct public transport from Bilbao to Irun.


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