Washington, Dec 28 : The recent discovery of a 25,000 year old pendant at an archaeological site in Zestoa has given rise to intense debate, which would make it the oldest found to date at open-air excavations throughout the whole of the Iberian Peninsula.
This stone, found at the Irikaitz archaeological site, is nine centimetres long and has a hole for hanging it from the neck although it would seem that, apart from being adornment, it was used to sharpen tools.
The discovery has had great repercussion, but it is not by any means the only one uncovered here by the team led by Alvaro Arrizabalaga.
“Almost every year some archaeological artefact of great value is discovered; at times, even 8 or 10. It is a highly fruitful location,” Arrizabalaga said.
Irikaitz lies behind the bath spa in Zestoa, on the other side of the river Urola, 14 metres from the river bank. The archaeologist from the University of the Basque Country has been carrying out excavations here summer after summer, together with students and researchers from this and other universities and in cooperation with Aranzadi Science Society.
Since 1998 they have uncovered 32 square metres, nothing compared to the eight hectares that this “gigantic” open-air site covers.
According to Arrizabalaga, when they started, “it was like a lottery. We did not know what to expect – either about its chronology or about the kinds of remains likely to be uncovered.”
Precisely because of this lack of references, they were fascinated when they came across “totally exotic” raw material – volcanic stones.
“In the first dig, we thought at first that someone may have brought the rocks there when they were building the Urola railway, to use them as ballast. It was all so surprising and incredible,” Arrizabalaga said.
But no, this phenomenon had another logical explanation.
“It is a geological rarity. In the Urola River valley there is a layer of volcanic stones; the river cut through these, took them to the surface and brought them to this place. This is why humans from prehistory came here – there was no other place in the Basque Country with stones like these,” he said.
The fact that the remains are so old or the features of the materials thereof so unusual make dating in Irikaitz very difficult, as most of the methods commonly used to this end are of little use here.
A clear example of this is that any kind of dating with bone remains has had to be totally discarded, unlike in other sites, here there are hardly any such remains, the earth here being so acidic that it has consumed almost everything in this respect, leaving only stone tools and plant fossils. (ANI)