An ancient bronze hand found at Irulegi in northern Spain

Juantxo Egana

Inscriptions found on a 2,000-year-old metal hand may be written in modern-day Basque. If this interpretation is correct, it could help explain the origins of the Basque language – one of the great mysteries of linguistics.

However, other linguists argue that there is insufficient evidence to connect the inscriptions with Basque.

The bronze hand was found in July 2021 on top of a hill called Eroligi in the Pyrenees in northern Spain. Archaeologists have been excavating there since 2007, first to uncover a medieval castle and then to explore a settlement much older than the Iron Age.

This settlement was established between 1500 and 1000 BC. It probably came under attack by the Romans and was abandoned in the 1st century BC.

The Irulegi hand is a sheet of bronze measuring 14 cm long, 12.8 cm wide and only 0.1 cm thick, with a green patina. On the back of the hand are four lines of text, which were first scratched and then rewritten with dots in metal.

Most of the words cannot be linked to any known language, but the first word is “sorioneku”. Maten Estara at the University of the Basque Country in Bilbao, Spain, and his colleagues say it is similar to the word Basque. Fortunate, which means “of good fortune”. Furthermore, the last word is “eráukon”, which he compares to a Basque verb. was.

The Irulegi hand, written in a mysterious language.

Mattin Aestaran, et. to do.

The purpose of the hand was probably to point or attract good fortune, by appealing to a deity. Mikel Addiso is true. I Aranzadi Science Society in Donostia – also known as San Sebastian – in Spain, which supported the excavation.

The researchers add that there is hand evidence that the Basque language was spoken in northern Spain for over 2,000 years. While most of the languages ​​spoken in Europe today belong to it. Indo-European Language family, Basque does not. “It’s not related to any other language that we know of,” says Adesu Egia. Previous research has tentatively linked the Basques to a group of people called the Vascones who, according to classical sources, lived in the Pyrenees.

However, the idea that the manuscripts are in a language related to Basque is not universally accepted. After hand was first described in a 2022 book, linguists Celine Monol Pau University and in the Adour region in France and more Julian Monterola Published at the University of the Basque Country in Vitoria-Gasteiz A criticism.

“The evidence is not enough,” says Manterola. This is partly because Uroligi has so few words at hand: he says that it is not enough to compare it properly with known languages.

Furthermore, the connection with the Basque is almost entirely based on the similarity of “Sorionko” and Fortunate. “We cannot truly associate any other word with historical Basque,” says Mounole.

Even this similarity can be misleading, Montrola says. Similar phrases in the Basque language have changed in predictable ways over the centuries to arrive at their present forms, but if “suriniko” became Fortunatehe would have taken a very different path.

“We are hoping that more logs will appear,” says Monol. “In this case, we will be able to learn more about this language and its possible relationship with the Basque language.”