Date:

Study reveals oldest and longest example of Vasconic script

A new study of the 2100-year-old Hand of Irulegi has revealed the oldest and longest example of Vasconic script.

The Hand of Irulegi was discovered in 2021 during excavations of an ancient settlement at the base of Castillo de IRULEGIko gaztelua near Pamplona, Spain.

- Advertisement -

The hand dates from the 1st century BC during the Roman Sertoria Wars (80 to 72 BC), a period of conflict between a faction of Roman rebels (Sertorians) and the government in Rome (Sullans).

A recent study, published in the journal Antiquity, has revealed that the inscribed text on the hand is written in the Vasconic language, potentially linked to present-day Basque.

This connection is supported by the identification of the Basque term for ‘good fortune’ on the artefact, suggesting that it served as a good luck charm or was a dedication to a pre-Roman deity.

Basque is one of the last descendants of the ‘Palaeo-European’ languages, spoken before Indo-European languages were introduced from migrating people originating from the Eurasian Steppe during the Bronze Age.

- Advertisement -

“The Irulegi hand is the only long written text retrieved to date, alongside several coins minted in the Vasconic territory,” states lead author of the study Mattin Aiestaran. However, “the lack of other comparative texts makes it difficult to prove a direct link between the Vasconic language spoken at Irulegi and the present-day Basque language.”

“The Irulegi hand must be considered as a well-integrated element within the cultural context of the settlement,” says Aiestaran. “The hand would have had a ritual function, either to attract good luck or as an offering to an indigenous god or goddess of fortune.”

Despite being the only long Vasconic text discovered so far, one of the words is close enough to Basque to be a ‘cognate’, a word that indicates a potential link.

“The discovery of the Hand of Irulegi has opened a new horizon to unravel the history behind the most enigmatic language still alive in Europe: the Basque language,” concludes Mikel Edeso Egia from the Aranzadi Science Society.

Header Image Credit : Antiquity Journal

Sources: Antiquity – A Vasconic inscription on a bronze hand: writing and rituality in the Iron Age Irulegi settlement (Ebro Valley). https://doi.org/10.15184/aqy.2023.199

- Advertisement -
spot_img
Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan is multi-award-winning journalist and the Managing Editor at HeritageDaily. His background is in archaeology and computer science, having written over 7,500 articles across several online publications. Mark is a member of the Association of British Science Writers (ABSW), the World Federation of Science Journalists, and in 2023 was the recipient of the British Citizen Award for Education, the BCA Medal of Honour, and the UK Prime Minister's Points of Light Award.
spot_img

Mobile Application

spot_img

Related Articles

Bronze fitting depicting Alexander the Great found on Danish Island

Archaeologists have discovered a bronze fitting depicting Alexander the Great on the Danish island of Zealand.

Archaeologists uncover exquisite Roman glassware in Nîmes

An exquisite collection of glassware dating from the Roman period has been uncovered by INRAP archaeologists in the French city of Nîmes.

Frescos discovery among the finest uncovered at Roman Pompeii

A collection of frescos recently discovered at the Roman city of Pompeii have been described as among the finest found by archaeologists.

Study suggests that Egyptian sky-goddess symbolises the Milky Way

In Ancient Egyptian religion, Nut was the celestial goddess of the sky, stars, the cosmos, astronomy, and the universe in its whole.

Traces of Kettering’s wartime history rediscovered

Researchers from the Sywell Aviation Museum have announced the rediscovery of a preserved WW2 air raid shelter in Kettering, England.

Earthen pot containing 3,730 lead coins found at Phanigiri

Archaeologists from the Department of Archaeology have discovered an earthen pot containing a hoard of 3,730 lead coins at the Buddhist site of Phanigiri, located in Suryapet district, India.

Bronze lamp revealed as cult object associated with Dionysus

A study of a bronze lamp found near the town of Cortona, Italy, has revealed that it was an object associated with the mystery cult of Dionysus.

Neolithic coastal settlements were resilient in the face of climate change

A study of the submerged site of Habonim North indicates that Neolithic coastal settlements were resilient in the face of climate change.