20 septiembre 2020

Mariposas, barcos, peces y otros paralelos entre Vindolanda e Iruña-Veleia

Vindolanda fue un castro romano situado al sur de la muralla de Adriano, en el norte de Inglaterra. La ocupación romana se prolongó desde el siglo I d.C. hasta principios del V d.C. (1), pero continuó siendo habitada tras la marcha de los romanos. Es famosa sobre todo por las cartas en latín escritas en tablillas halladas en el lugar, de los siglos I-II d.C. (2), que han proporcionado interesantes datos lingüísticos y paleográficos. La similitud de los hallazgos de Vindolanda con los de Iruña-Veleia fue destacada desde que se dieron a conocer los grafitos del yacimiento alavés en 2006 (3). Posteriores hallazgos de paralelos paleográficos reforzaron la comparación (4,5). Ahora, los paralelos se extienden al campo de la simbología cristiana y grecorromana, con el hallazgo de un cáliz, que ha sido datado en los siglos V-VI d.C. (6), que contiene símbolos que recuerdan a algunos de los hallados en Iruña-Veleia (Fig. 1).

Fig. 1. Piezas del cáliz con grafitos hallado en Vindolanda.

12 septiembre 2020

Science and the court ruling on the Iruña-Veleia case

On the occasion of the recent trial and court ruling on the case of the findings at the archaeological site of Iruña-Veleia, reports have been published in the media that seriously distort the reality of the events. This distortion of reality has crossed borders, with the false news that a geologist had pleaded guilty, acknowledging that "the whole thing was nothing but a joke" (!), being reported in two British newspapers with wide readership. It is worrisome that in the Iruña-Veleia case some media are failing to fulfill their mission of truthfully informing citizens.

With regard to the sentence, it is important to highlight that it acknowledges the lack of proofs against the main individual accused, Eliseo Gil, the former director of the excavation, with the ruling being entirely based on clues, and that the court case remains unresolved, since Gil has appealed his conviction, requesting his acquittal.

But, apart from the events in the judicial sphere, the Iruña-Veleia case has a scientific side, which a large part of the public is unaware of. And the fact is that what has been presented in some media outlets as a "crude forgery", is actually the subject of a lively and still unresolved controversy among experts from various scientific disciplines, who hold conflicting views on the authenticity of the findings. And the reality of this controversy has been made clear in the judge’s ruling, where it is stated that there are "opposing opinions that will have to be assessed in the field of archaeological, linguistic, epigraphic, etc., sciences." and that "there are conflicting opinions about their authenticity among the different experts who have been able to analyze the pieces." The recognition by a judicial body of the scientific controversy surrounding the Iruña-Veleia findings disproves the myth of the “scientific unanimity” favorable to their falsehood, which was created in November 2008 by the Department of Culture of the Provincial Council of Álava (DFA) and which lasts until today, fed by some media that ignore the facts. And the reality is that numerous authors in various fields (archaeology, epigraphy, linguistics, history, geology, Egyptology) have publicly expressed, through reports, scientific articles, books and conference presentations, their opinions and arguments favorable to the authenticity of the Iruña-Veleia findings. And this controversy is not affected by the court ruling. First, because the court case remains unresolved, and, second, because scientific issues must be resolved in scientific forums, such as scientific journals and conferences, not in courts of law. And this is what the sentence refers to when it expressly asserts that the opposing opinions "will have to be assessed in the fields of the archaeological, linguistic, epigraphic, etc., sciences."

We do not want to hide the fact that the sentence is based on the analyses carried out by an expert from the Institute of Cultural Heritage of Spain (IPCE) on 36 pieces from Iruña-Veleia (out of the more than 400 found at the site), which he interpreted as indicative of recent execution or