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).