In 2005 and 2006 during the excavations carried out at the archaeological site of Iruña-Veleia (Villodas-Trespuentes, Iruña de Oca, Alava, Basque Country) hundreds of small fragments of ceramics (also of brick, bone and glass) were found with inscriptions and drawings in strata dated by the archaeologists to the Roman period. The team of researchers, headed by the archaeologists Eliseo Gil Zubillaga and Idoia Filloy Nieva, had been studying the Romanization of Alava since the 1980s, having begun their work in Iruña-Veleia in 1994. In the year 2000 the firm (Lurmen S.L.) signed a contractual agreement of collaboration with the public entity Eusko Tren, the Department of Transportation and Public Works of the Basque Government. The agreement covered the costs of the excavation work at Iruña-Veleia for a period of ten years.
The inscriptions and engravings present on the pieces are truly striking; the pieces appeared together in several groups and as isolated finds, in a total of about twenty different locations within the aforementioned archaeological site. Their motifs range from Judeo-Christian themes to questions of a scatological and profane nature. The languages reflected are for the most part Latin (apparently in an advanced stage of vulgarization) and ancient Basque (with around fifty examples), while some specialists also point out the presence of Celtic terms. Also, there is the striking presence of symbols of Egyptian origin, complemented by names of pharaohs, divinities and place names that take us back to Ancient Egypt.
These surprising discoveries generated a heated debate that took off practically as soon as the first groups of artifacts were presented in 2006 followed by subsequent press leaks that led to the recognition of the presence of texts in ancient Basque. A veritable storm of opinions soon was raging on the Internet as well as in other media. The polemic reached one of its most critical moments –until now—in the Foral Order 444 of November 19, 2008, on the part of the Foral Diputation of Alava (the institution responsible for and proprietor of a large part of the lands pertaining to Iruña-Veleia), which had taken this action based on the reports of a Scientific Advisory Commission created ad hoc. Thus, by means of this Foral Order it was decreed that the exceptional discoveries were forgeries and that the inscriptions were recent, which pointed to fraud.