Iruña-Veleia is an archaeological site located 10 km west of the Basque Country’s capital, Vitoria (northern Spain). The site corresponds to the Roman town of Veleia, whose origin dates back to the 8th century BC with the settlement of a Basque-speaking population centre. The town developed itself and considerably grew during Roman times, and continued to be populated for centuries until its definitive abandonment well into the Medieval period. The first excavations at the site took place in 1900. Different archaeological researches would follow along the 20th century. However, it was not until 2006 when the site made some big headlines for the finding of what were supposed to be the oldest texts written in Basque language -probably the oldest language still spoken in Europe- as well as the oldest representation of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. To add more controversy to the discovery, Egyptian hieroglyphic inscriptions were also found. However, what was probably meant to be Spain's most important archaeological finding ever ended up being "the biggest archaelogical fraud in the history of the Iberian Peninsula" instead.
Hereunder is the representation of the Calvary of Jesus Christ carved on a piece of pottery. A crucified Jesus is represented in the middle, accompanied by thieves Dismas and Gestas, who are also crucified. Right under the central cross, there are two figures that probably represent the Virgin Mary and Saint John. Above the central cross, there is a Latin inscription, RIP (requiescat in pace, rest in peace in English). Early analyses revealed that the representation dated from the 3rd century AD, thus making it the oldest representation of the crucifixion. However, a second research carried out in 2008 concluded that, in spite of the pottery being from the 3rd century AD, the representation was a fake. Experts said, among other statements, that the main anomaly was the “RIP” inscription on it. This idiomatic expression has never been found on tombstones before the 8th century and it did not become ubiquitous on Christian tombs until the 18th century.
|Note the hieroglyphs on the first picture, and the word
NIIPIIRTITI on the second one
|Basque text on a fragment of pottery