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Location of Veleia and other Roman cities in the context of ancient Basque tribes and the modern Basque Country

Veleia was a Roman town in Hispania, currently located in the Basque Country, Spain. The site is located in the municipality of Iruña de Oca, 10 kilometers west of Vitoria. The town was an important station on the Roman road ab Asturica Burdigalam that ran parallel to the coast of the Bay of Biscay. At its apogee, the city could have been inhabited by some five to ten thousand people.

The archaeological site of Iruña-Veleia is the most important from the Roman period in the Basque Country[1]. It was alleged to contain the oldest known texts written in the Basque language as well as, allegedly, the oldest representation of the crucifixion of Jesus found to date, but soon after the findings proved to be forged.[2][3]




Bronze and Iron ages

The town was originally founded in the 8th century BC, in the Late Bronze Age. The houses from this period, rectangular and round with adobe walls and thatched roofs, are similar to those found at the nearby site of Atxa (Vitoria).

Roman period

In the first half of the 1st century some of these houses were replaced by others of Roman style (domus). This architectural romanization continued as the century advanced.

The late Roman city (3rd and 4th centuries) is better known. It shows signs of decay and the construction of a wall that encloses an eleven hectare area. The town survived into the 5th century after Roman power had disappeared from the region, but by the end of the century only burial plots in abandoned buildings are found.

Modern age

There was an abbey at the site at least since the 16th century whose buildings remained visible until the mid 19th century.

Archeological forgery case at the Iruña-Veleia site

The Iruña-Veleia site had been granted an unusually large 3.72 million euros funding by the Basque regional government. In 2006, a series of sensational findings at Iruña-Veleia were announced to the press by the director of the archeological mission. These included what would have been the oldest non-onomastical texts in Basque, which were hailed as the first evidence of written Basque.

Also, it was announced the discovery of a series of inscriptions and drawings on pottery fragments, some of which refer to Egyptian history and even some written in Egyptian hieroglyphs. Finally, it was announced the finding of the earliest representation of the Calvary (crucifixion of Jesus) found anywhere to date.[4]

However, none of these findings were submitted to any scholarly journal or any serious expert assessment.

Fabricated pieces

Eventually, all these inscriptions turned out to be a fabrication, as concluded by the 26 experts who analyzed the data for almost 10 months, and that went public on November 19, 2008. The texts were described as "crude manipulation," "incoherent," having texts and words both "incorrect and non-existant," and as being so "obviously false as to be almost comical."[5] The case has been dubbed as the "biggest archaeological fraud in the history of the Iberian Peninsula"[6]

The regional government of Alava is currently pursuing legal actions against the fraud perpetrators[7][8].

See also

External links


  • Elkin, Mike (2009): "The Veleia Affair" Archaeology Volume 62 Number 5, September/October 2009.


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ [2]
  3. ^ [3]
  4. ^ Un maestro entre el Nilo y el Zadorra, Diario de Noticias de Álava, June 9, 2006; En Veleia hubo alguien muy culto y de alto 'status', que dominaba la historia egipcia y sabía escribir jeroglíficos; Aparecen en Veleia restos de inscripciones en euskera del siglo III y de temática cristiana
  5. ^ El Mundo: Los expertos concluyen que los grafitos en euskera del siglo III son "totalmente falsos"
  6. ^ [4]
  7. ^ El Correo Digital 03-03-09 "La Diputación aporta al fiscal nuevas pruebas sobre el engaño de Veleia Una empresa alemana afirma que los gráficos aportados por Cerdán para autentificar los hallazgos «son una copia» de su manual"
  8. ^ [5]

Coordinates: 42°50′32″N 2°47′15″W / 42.84222°N 2.7875°W / 42.84222; -2.7875 [6]


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