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Study reveals oldest and longest example of Vasconic script

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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.

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.

“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

This content was originally published on www.heritagedaily.com – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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Archaeology

Excavation uncovers traces of the first bishop’s palace at Merseburg Cathedral Hill

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Archaeologists from the State Office for Monument Preservation and Archaeology (LDA) Saxony-Anhalt have uncovered traces of the first bishop’s palace at the southern end of the Merseburg Cathedral Hill in Merseburg, Germany.

Construction of the early Romanesque Merseburg Cathedral was begun by Bishop Thietmar of Merseburg in 1015.

It was consecrated in 1021 in the presence of Emperor Heinrich II (Henry II), however, following a series of collapses in the eastern part of the structure, the cathedral wouldn’t be formally consecrated and opened until 1042 by Bishop Hunold.

The Merseburg Cathedral of St. John and St. Lawrence is today considered one of the most important cathedral buildings in Germany.

The LDA team were excavating the basement of the so-called Martinikurie, a two-story residential building from the Baroque period. Excavations revealed the remains of the first bishop’s palace, dating from from the time of the second consecration of Merseburg Cathedral.

According to the LDA: “We found the almost completely preserved basement-like lower floor of a hall building, whose 1.75 metre thick foundation walls are still preserved up to a height of 3.40 metres. Steps in the masonry and a pillar from the time of construction inside the building prove that at least one hall-like upper floor once stood on top of this.”
The palace was constructed by Bishop Hunold, who headed the diocese of Merseburg between 1036 and 1050.

“This finding makes it possible to locate one of the most important buildings of the episcopal see in Merseburg – a building that, with its location and size, clearly expresses the self-confidence of the diocese, which was re-founded in 1004 by King Henry II of Germany” added the LDA.

Header Image Credit : LDA

Sources : State Office for Monument Preservation and Archaeology (LDA)

This content was originally published on www.heritagedaily.com – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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Archaeologists find ancient papyri with correspondence made by Roman centurions

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Archaeologists from the University of Wrocław have uncovered ancient papyri that contains the correspondence of Roman centurions who were stationed in Egypt.

The papyri were discovered in Berenice Troglodytica, an ancient seaport of Egypt on the western shore of the Red Sea. The city was founded by Ptolemy II Philadelphus (285–246 BC), who named it after his mother, Berenice I of Egypt.

During the Roman period, Berenice Troglodytica was one of the main waystations for the trade in war elephants and exotic goods, imported from India, Sri Lanka, Arabia, and Upper Egypt.

Excavations of an animal cemetery located on the western outskirts of the city have uncovered an accumulation of ceramics originating from the Mediterranean, Africa and India.

Image Credit : Instytut Archeologii Uniwersytetu Wrocławskiego

Among the accumulation, the team found Roman coins, a fibula, ostracons (fragments of texts on ceramics), and several papyri.

The papyri contains the correspondence of centurions, naming Haosus, Lucinius and Petronius. Centurions were soldiers who were promoted to command a centuria or “century”, a military unit consisting of between 80 to 100 men.

“In the correspondence, Petronius asks Lucinius (stationed in Berenice Troglodytica) about the prices of individual exclusive goods. There is also the statement: “I am giving you the money, I am sending it by dromedarius (a unit of legionnaires moving on dromedaries). Take care of them, provide them with veal and poles for their tents.”

Dr. Marta Osypińska from the Institute of Archaeology of the University of Wrocław, said: “For Egyptologists and other scientists dealing with antiquity, this is an extremely rare and high-calibre discovery.”

“In this part of the world, there are very few sites from the Roman period. The Egyptians tend to leave little historical accounts from this time in history, because it is the moment when they were conquered.” added  Dr. Osypińska.

Header Image Credit : Instytut Archeologii Uniwersytetu Wrocławskiego

Sources : PAP

This content was originally published on www.heritagedaily.com – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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