More on paleo-Basque writing

Back in November 2008 I wrote a post, ‘Debunking and de-Basque-ing‘ talking about the general state of Basque paleolinguistics and epigraphy, with specific reference to claims that a set of inscriptions from Iruña-Veleia were not the best evidence we have for the early use of a Basque ancestral language but in fact a ridiculous hoax. I didn’t think about it much since that time, but it seems that the debate rages on. Maju at Leherensuge asserts this week that many of the more extreme claims of hoaxing were grossly exaggerated (thanks to Julien at A Very Remote Period Indeed for pointing this out in the latest edition of Four Stone Hearth). You can also see a large number of the Iruña-Veleia inscriptions on this flickr stream. I’m still pretty dubious about the inscription on the linked post; I can see how it might be read as MISCART[…] but I don’t see it as obviously more correct than DESCART[…]. And, given that it comes after the names Socrates and Virgil, why would the name Miscart (an apparently unattested or new variant of Melkart, a Punic version of the god Mercury) be there at all? But I’m not a Basque epigrapher and wouldn’t claim any particular expertise here. The existence of one (possibly joke?) inscription wouldn’t automatically negate the validity of the rest, some of which (from the flickr site) I see no particular reason to doubt. And I don’t find it preposterous at all that there should be Paleo-Basque inscriptions in the regions where Basque is spoken today. But do remember that this region has a particularly hoax-ridden and pseudoarchaeologically-inclined inscriptional history.

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