July 19, 2024 | 10:58

Leisure & Culture

The discovery of the Larunbe altar: A link with the Basque deity Larrahe

Maria Jose Gonzalez

June 15, 2024 | 3:29 pm

An exceptional archaeological discovery

In August 2022, a multidisciplinary team coordinated by archaeologists from the Aranzadi Science Society and with the participation of researchers from several universities, discovered in Larunbe an ara or votive altar from Roman times, dating from the 1st century AD This altar, dedicated to the Basque deity Larrahe by a woman named Valeria Vitella, represents an exceptional find both for its Latin inscription and for its recovery context.

Since 2010, the Aranzadi Science Society has been coordinating an archaeological project in Larunbe, with the collaboration of more than 50 volunteers, to excavate and consolidate the remains of the medieval monastery of Doneztebe, located at the top of Mount Arriaundi. During these excavations, the votive altar was found, a thousand years prior to the construction of the monastery, which adds significant value to the discovery.

Historical and cultural context of the discovery

The altar was found at the bottom of a medieval well, with the inscription facing downwards, suggesting that it may have been intentionally thrown or deposited there. This altar was not found in its original location, as it was designed to be standing and legible. However, its recovery in this context provides a unique insight into religious practices and the syncretism between Roman and Basque culture.

Archaeological materials from the Roman period had previously been documented at the Arriaundi site, such as ceramic fragments, sandal studs and coins. However, the discovery of the altar provides significant advances regarding the beliefs of the Basques and the area of ​​worship of the deity Larrahe. This discovery allows us to expand knowledge about the territorial influence of this divinity, which until now was only attested in three altars from Basque territory.

Importance for the Basque language and culture

The Larunbe altar is not only significant for its age and dedication to Larrahe, but also for its contribution to the understanding of the Basque language. The Latin inscription with the Basque name of the deity, interpreted as related to the field or agricultural territory, provides us with valuable information about the origins and evolution of the Basque.

"It is one more testimony that helps to delve deeper into the origins and evolution of Basque and Basque," says Aranzadi. The location of the altar in Larunbe, on the limits of what could be the Basque patrimonial territory, delimits and expands the known area of ​​influence for this divinity.

The votive altar was presented at an institutional event in the church of San Vicente de Larunbe, with the participation of prominent personalities from the academic and political spheres. During the event, two monographs on the ara and the Arriaundi site, a documentary report on the discovery and a mural dedicated to Larrahe, made by the muralist Iker Uribe, were presented.

This discovery marks a milestone in Navarrese archeology and opens new doors for research into the religious beliefs and practices of the Basques in Roman times. Aranzadi will continue its archaeological excavations in Navarra, offering guided tours of the Irulegi site for all those interested in learning more about this fascinating chapter in Basque history.

More news