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March 25, 2023
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Hand of Irulegi: ancient Spanish artefact rewrites history of Basque language

The Vascones, an Iron Age tribe from whose language modern Basque is thought to descend, were previously viewed as largely illiterate

More than 2,000 years after it was probably hung from the door of a mud-brick house in northern Spain to bring luck, a flat, lifesize bronze hand engraved with dozens of strange symbols could help scholars trace the development of one of the world’s most mysterious languages.

Although the piece – known as the Hand of Irulegi – was discovered last year by archaeologists from the Aranzadi Science Society who have been digging near the city of Pamplona since 2017, its importance has only recently become clear.

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