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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Reckless destruction at Iruña-Veleia Vasco-Roman site

J.M. Elexpuru
denounces that excavator activities have been authorized and have already began in the most important Vasco-Roman site of Iruña-Veleia. I translate directly from Basque:

S.O.S. The destruction has begun!!!

Today at afternoon, thanks to the information of a person who passed by the site, we have got to know that the destruction has begun: some workers with an excavator were laboring at the south of the archaeological site, around the main gate. From the probes made by Lurmen*, we know that this area is also very rich in archaeological remains. But according to the approved Directive Plan, the new director general, Núñez, has allowed himself to dig with machines up to 50 cm, without taking in consideration that at the depth of just 20-30 cm there is also a wealth of archaeological material, as found by Lurmen in the probes of 2005 and 2006. The destruction has begun, we are at the gates of a new edition of what happened at Gaztelu Plaza in Pamplona, Navarre**.


* Lurmen is the company in charge of the dig up to 2006, when they were forced by rumors to prematurely announce the finding of a host of Roman era impressive findings, including many of the oldest Basque texts known to date. This triggered a witch hunt by a camarilla of well-connected linguists, led by Joseba Lakarra, who saw their theories in danger, resulting in the removal of Lurmen and its competent team from the dig, which was given to one of the few archaeologists who supported the witch-hunt. To date the archaeologists in charge of Lurmen have been acquitted of any charges but not yet rehabilitated in spite of growing academic support.

** The "emergency" dig at Gaztelu Plaza (or Plaza del Castillo) in Pamplona's old city center, where most important Roman era (and probably older) remains, including baths, were found when an underground parking lot was being built, was another archaeological scandal of mismanagement and cruel disinterest in unveiling Basque history. The park had no urgency whatsoever but was built anyhow at the expense of science and patrimony, stuff on which our institutional politicians seem to have no interest - or even a quite clear interest in hiding and deforming.

For further info, see category Iruña-Veleia in this blog. Also at SOS Veleia (in Basque, English and Spanish).


ambiorix said...

Hello Leherensuge,

I was there yesterday and it is horrendous what they are doing.
The remove the earth with a big excavator - not just removing the top layer affected by agriculture - till the appearance of Roman structures, up to more than one meter deep.
I could clearly distinguish the destruction of structures and otherwise archaeological layers.

I estimate that there was removed in one day more than hundred cubic meter of earth.

Although I am a geologist I have the strong feeling that here is something completely wrong and that they are destructing valuable archaeological evidence.

As you indicated already we follow-up the situation and put numerous photographs on the website here and here.
We comment on what is happening in Anguloscuro.

Cheers, Koen

Maju said...

Mila esker, Koen. I'll post some of the pictures with my best criteria.

It's a crime against our history, our legacy, our identity. And what has me more astonished is how little it appears in the media.

Maju said...

Btw, if I can be of any help just tell.

ambiorix said...

I think the best thing we can do is inform about what is happening. This is not about the authenticity of the 'exceptional inscriptions', this is all about somebody who wants as fast as possible excavate something monumental. But I understand that this type of archaeology is from long ago. We have to reach influential archaeologists that can convince the local authorities that this is not the way to excavate Iruña Veleia.

Gero arte, Koen

ambiorix said...

As we can read today in El Correo (By the way, a master piece of disinformación this article, but look at the picture - it is worth a thousand words) the local government supports the methodology of excavation (We are absolutely sure that this is very bad archaeological praxis).

The political responsability lays on the Diputada Lorena López de Lacalle (EA-party) and the Diputado General de Alava, Xabier Agirre (PNV-party). They allow that the destruction of the archaeological register continue at a rate of hundreds of cubic meters a day, tens of cubic meters an hour. The information contained in the levels is lost forever.

We cannot forget that Julio Nuñez the new Director of Iruña Veleia is a university professor who trains future archaeologists.

Have a nice day!


Maju said...

From the photos he's ruthlessly excavating (and dumping, I understand) a layer of more than 1 meter. 50 cm is up to the tights at most and these people are in a ditch that reaches them to the shoulders or higher. 1-1.50 meters easily!

You say that the method is "valid" but what I see is that the only validity of the method is to destroy all the information, to destroy the patrimony of all Basques (and people in general), something that should not be tolerated.

Archaeology is a destructive activity, that's why doing it carefully and with complete records is so important. Whatever is dug and dumped now will be lost forever.

This is cultural genocide and has no other name.

ambiorix said...

Kaixo Leherensuge,
Just to keep you informed.
I sugest to have first a look at to watch, and if you still have time and patience you can listen to the Diputada General (the relevant part starts around minute 9):Profesor Nuñez escava estructuras romanas con la pala mecánica.

Gero arte, Koen

ambiorix said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Maju said...

The video was posted yesterday. I'm following via Elexpuru's blog.

The Diputada's link is broken. I really don't feel like listening to her idiocies but if it's really relevant maybe you could repost the link, thanks. :)

ambiorix said...

I try to repost the link to the interview with the 'Diputada'.
It's more interesting than you might think, at least if you like detecting lies in talks with politicians.
The interesting part begins around minute 9.

You will even learn that she likes the people from SOS-IruñaVeleia! She understands us!

Around minute 13 Elexpure apears...

We observe that since the end of last week the excavator is removing just the top 30 cm...
It took the Deputación more than one week to figure things out.
All this was happening just under their nose...

Urengo arte, Koen

Maju said...

This links work, thanks. But I'd say that the only interesting part it's Elexpuru's denounce. I presume you were sarcastic in your comment about what López de la Calle said, right?

Whatever the case, I am glad to hear that the work of denounce and protest has got some effect. There's a whole world of difference between what Núñez was doing and removing only the 30 cm. that you say they are doing now.

I just hope he is honest in his archaeological work... he has began very badly, with ill intent, in my opinion. Obviously politicians have got worried about the photos and video and whatever else and hand told him to go smooth. But I'm by now pretty much persuaded that Núñez is purely evil in his intent, so I don't expect anything good from his work. I hope to be wrong.

ambiorix said...

Kaixo Maju,

Yes I was, but it is a proof of incompetence, she indubitably was guaranteeing that Nuñez was doing right.

I saw your other contributions on Veleia - impressive. In this way non Spanish speakers can follow this soap opera.

I inform you about the latest episode. As you maybe noticed in the latest 7K (the weekend magazine of Gara) there was an interview with Nuñez. I just copy the most interesting passage:

Pregunta: El litigio sobre la autenticidad de los hallazgos subsiste y se amplifica en algunos foros.

Nuñez: No entiendo la polémica. El análisis de laboratorio de las piezas encontradas no lo hemos hecho aquí en la universidad, ni se lo hemos encargado a unos amigos. Los mejores especialistas del mundo se han encargado de la tarea y su veredicto no deja margen al error de duda. La verdad es que con todo este asunto he tenido que afrontar situaciones que clamaban al cielo y que me daban, personal y profesionalmente, mucha vergüenza.

To resume: Nuñez answers a question about the ongoing trial and polemics that this thing was already long settled by the Commission: the best laboratories in the world studied the evidences and concluded that beyond any doubt everything was found fake.

Oups. As a geologist I studied I thought everything that was available about laboratory studies. But this is something completely new. Even the judge that investigate the case is not informed about that (otherwise he wouldn't have ordered new analysis as you informed in another article).

We have here the unique case that a former member of the Comision is confabulating about evidences that doesn't exist (as far as we know). Quite strange, isn't it?

Everything that Nuñez touches is magic...

Till the next episode, Koen

Maju said...

Look, Ambiorix, up to some months ago I was in doubt about the "falsification" controversy. I had lost track of the issue and the media had been so one-sided with the official version, even adding some of their own, that I was (like most casual observers) confused (my case) or even persuaded of the official version (probably most people's situation).

But since last year, since H. Iglesias argued that there was linguistic evidence in favor of the authenticity and, after that, as I did some follow up after that, I am quite persuaded that it is a scandalous case of camarilla conspiration within UPV-EHU. The leader is obviously Lakarra, who was the first one to spread his doubts as accusations of falsification (I was aware of that when writing and discussing the matter in Wikipedia) and I believe this happens because him, like others, do not want to accept that archaeology has primacy over linguistics (it is much more objective and factual) and that they do not want their theories to be revised.

Whatever the case it seems that linguists' "consensus", generated by rumor and corridor talks, was the main engine of this persecution against Lurmen. Which unfolded quite inquisitorially at the "experts' commission", where there was (as we know) no analytic that proved anything, as Núñez claims.

Obviously Núñez is good at opportunism and caught the tide and got his prize. And he is obviously committed to the destruction of any possible further evidence that might support Gil's findings.

I did not read Gara this weekend but, while I have been a reader of Gara and Egin before it, I think they are clearly failing in this matter (as in others: Egin was a zillion times better than Gara, specially in its late period, when they did a lot of research journalism nobody else did, except the offshoot Ardi Beltza - probably that's why both were closed).

"I saw your other contributions on Veleia - impressive. In this way non Spanish speakers can follow this soap opera".

That's the idea. Feel free to borrow them for SOS-IV or whatever else. The more the non-official version spreads, the better.

If you need me for translations (I'm no official translator but I can do that reasonably well) or whatever, feel free to ask. I told the same to Eliseo.


ambiorix said...

You can find more about the last subject here

(in case the link doesn't work:

ambiorix said...

Maju wrote: I did not read Gara this weekend but, while I have been a reader of Gara and Egin before it, I think they are clearly failing in this matter

Well, I think newspaper writes what their readers like to read. Gara produced from time to time very objective and in my opinion well written articles about this case (e. g. this one; all the other newspapers of that day copied some press communication from the Deputy), and also very bad articles. The same is true for Berria (the worst article is this one; an experienced journalist believed everything that he was told without any critical reflexión - to be honest, other articles of the same journalist were of good quality - although he is a convinced 'falsist').
But in general it is disappointing the journalistic level about this case.

Thanks for your offer for translating work - we will find you ;>

Maju said...

The links (both) work, thanks. I must say you guys are doing a great work at SOS Iruña-Veleia.

It's true that Gara did some good work earlier but now it seems persuaded, like nearly everyone that the Commission's conclusions are definitive, without having really looked at them in depth. This I guess it's something that SOS-IV could improve, maybe providing a simple (i.e. apt for journalists and common people) synopsis of both thesis (with links to the relevant papers, articles, videos, etc. for deeper reference) that can serve as quick unbiased reference.

Also maybe having a "press office" of sorts could help. I have some experience in the popular movements (mostly the old antimilitarist movement, KEM-MOC, of the 80s-90s) and I know how critical can be to have an efficient "press office" of sorts that keeps informing the media with communications day after day. Nowadays with the Internet providing accessible general references is relatively easier (no need to send thick dossiers and stuff like that).

"We comment on what is happening in Anguloscuro".

But that blog is pretty much idle since many months ago. I follow it via my google account and has not produced a single new article in more than two months.

However I see that you use the comments section as a forum (710 replies to last post!!!). You guys should get a proper forum, you can have them for free. :)

ambiorix said...

Of course you are right. We invaded Angulo Oscuro - I liked the tone and style. The other blogs, where 'falsists' and 'verists' meet, are quite violent and it is not a pleasure to participate, although of course it is interesting confronting opinions (insulting is less interesting).

Don't underestimate our press service, I think they are quite efficient ;> (mostly through e-mail, not through the website).
Yes, we could have our own blog but because of a lack of time and energy we discarded this option (you need a lot of energy and patience to deal with the Veleia passions). So we invade blogs of others... After almost two years of trying to convince that there was something wrong with the conclusions of the Commission we are also a bit tired, although still alive and kicking.

ambiorix said...

For people that want to have a general idea of the affair we have this, although not recently actualised.

Maju said...

That's a pretty good synthesis (though I miss links to the relevant papers, etc.). Possibly my criticism was quite unfounded.