Friday, September 12, 2008
Found at Mathilda's Anthropology Blog, a frequently renewed anthropological and archaeological blog that is very worth checking regularly, specially because it often adresses a range of issues that other blogs do not (specially worth mentioning her interest in North Africa, seldom found elsewhere).
Wheat grains found in the site of El Mirón (Ramales, Cantabria) have been dated to c. 5,550 BP, as a team lead by Leonor Peña-Chocarro reports at the Journal of Archaeological Science. This confirms the earliest possible dates managed for the arrival of Neolithic to the Northern Atlantic Iberian Peninsula, probably imported from the upper Ebro or middle Garonne Epicardial groups, of somewhat earlier dates.
You may wonder why I consider this town of modern province of Cantabria to be part of the "ancient Basque Country". Well, the fact is that ancient Cantabrians (as known historically as well as archaeologically) dwelt farther east, in western Cantabria, eastern Asturias and nearby areas of Castile-Leon. The eastern Cantabrian area fell until Castilian conquest in the 10th century CE in the Basque area - though one could well argue that historical Cantabrians were once Basques as well. Whatever the case, the village of Ramales, renamed "Ramales de la Victoria" by the Fascists in 1937, is just at the modern border with Biscay (Western Basque Country) and cannot be detached of Basque Prehistory and ancient and medieval history.
It's maybe worth mentioning that farmer in Basque is nekazari, literally 'hard work' (neka(-tu) = to get tired, nekez = hardly, with effort), what seems to suggest that early Basques saw it as a somewhat undesirable way of life. There is no such negative connotation for sepherdry instead, sepherd being artzain (from ardi = sheep + zain(-du) = to care, keep or guard). Sepherdry also expanded among Basques in the 4th milennium BCE and the earliest known sites out of the Ebro banks are known in Santimamiñe cave (Biscay), that holds the best continuous archaeological record in the area (from Chatelperronian to the Iron Age).
Pottery instead is older, with findings at Zatoia (Pyrenean Navarre) dated to the early 6th milennium BCE, in what seems a subneolithic context (hunter-gatherers with pottery).