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Archeological Discovery — Basque in This — “Important as Pompeii”

Talk about paydirt. Archeologists in the Basque Country announced this week that they have have discovered 270 third-century Roman inscriptions, many of them Christian in character. This epigraphic set is “among the most important of the Roman world” and includes an image of Calvary — “the most ancient known up to this moment.”

The site seems to represent a transitional phase, when Christianity was emerging in a pagan religious landscape that included cults of Egyptian deities as well as the more familiar local gods.

The managers of the archaeological site, located near the Alavan town of Nanclares de Oca, have officially unveiled these findings, identified and analysed last summer.

The tools with the inscriptions and drawings, most of them ceramics, were found in a room of the “Domus de pompeia valentina,” one of the urban residences of the old city of Veleia, built up in the last quarter of the first century and inhabited until the fifth century.

A 57-square metre room was found in that town, sealed as in a “time capsule with its contents untouched,” and inside there were feeding remains and fragments of different recipients and other tools that had been used for writing …

In the findings, the “early and extraordinary testimonies of Christianisation” stand out. For instance, the presentation of a Calvary, “the most ancient known up to this moment,” a small piece “between eight and ten square centimetres.”

Archaeologists also highlighted that “this is one of the most important epigraphic sets in the Roman world,” as important as those in Pompeii, Rome or Vindolanda (northern England).

The rest of the story’s here.

8 thoughts on “Archeological Discovery — Basque in This — “Important as Pompeii”

  1. As cool as this is for Christian scholarship, it’s doubly so for linguistics, as it comprises the oldest set of documents in Basque—800 years prior than those previously known. Basque, as an isolate language, is rather shrouded in mystery. To see our faith and this uique language caught up in the same drama is quite intriguing.

  2. Interesting article… And it reminds me of something I’ve meant to ask you for sometime:

    Has any research been done into diaries/journals/”commonplace books” (or some such notebooks) kept by ancient early Christians?
    In fact, what is the oldest–the *most* ancient–“diary”/”journal”/”commonplace book” (or some such regularly-updated notebook) kept by a Christian? Who wrote it, for how long was it maintained, and when was it discovered/dated, and who made the discovery, and where?

    Who was the most “prominent” Christian personality (i.e., Church leader [whether necessarily clerical or not] or what-not) known to have kept such a practice?

    Where any of the Church Fathers–or their immediate followers/associates/friends/etc.–known to have kept dairies or journals?

    IIRC/ISTR the “Meditations” of Emperor Marcus Aurelius was supposed to be some kind of diary, but since he was never a Christian, it don’t count. Still, I suppose, if this pagan kept such a thing or had such a writing practice, aren’t there any examples by early-Christians?

    I would especially be interested in journals or diaries (or “commonplace books”) kept by converts–especially if these were started *before* their conversion experiences. Have any such been found? Would give quite a glimpse into the convert’s spiritual journey. Have any been found?

    What (if anything) have research into such lierature uncoverred?

  3. That’s a great question, Jayson. But I can’t think of anything that’s both informal and self-referential, as a diary would be. The closest thing, I suppose, is Egeria’s travelogue of her pilgrimage to the Holy Land. The letters of Ambrose, Augustine, Basil, and others are also occasionally informal and give us glimpses of the everyday. Anybody else aware of anything?

  4. […] – Mike Aquilina relates news of a discovery of a whole bunch of third-century Roman inscriptions, way up in Spain.  The inscriptions are Christian in character, and include an image of Calvary.  I wanna know what they all say, though. […]

  5. Gregory of Tours in the sixth century left a considerable historical record. He didn’t write “journals” per se, but I recall being assigned to read a collection of his writings during college in order to obtain a glimpse of Gallic life in late Antiquity/early Medieval Europe.

  6. I am puzzled by the inscription “RIP” instead of “INRI” on the image of Calvary. Can anyone shed some light on this?

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