Ancient Basque poem found

A POEM in ancient Basque language, believed to be from the early XVIth century has been found in Guipuzkoa Provincial Historical Archive in Oñati.

The poem in archaic Euskera, was released at a press conference in San Sebastian, and is said to be a “treasure” for the study of languages.

Euskera is believed to be the oldest language in Europe, and it is what linguists call a language isolate, which means it bears no relation to any other known language or that its connections with other languages are still to be found. Although Euskera it is such an old language, it is still used today in the Basque country.

The authorship of this poem is unknown but it is hoped that it will help linguists to increase their knowledge of the evolution of the language.

It is a love poem and its great importance is due to the scarcity of texts in archaic Basque prior to 1660, so “it could be one of the oldest texts” preserved in the Basque language, the Provincial Council has said.

It was found by researcher Rosa Ayerbe, and transcribed by expert Iago Irioja.

It is “very difficult to read” and some fragments are difficult to understand.

It was found with notarial deeds from between 1503 and 1522, and it is believed that the author is one of the scribes who, probably during his learning process, was working there.

The find will be on display at the Koldo Mitxelena cultural centre.

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Jennifer Leighfield

Jennifer Leighfield, born in Salisbury, UK; resident in Malaga, Spain since 1989. Degree in Translation and Interpreting in Spanish, French and English from Malaga University (2005), specialising in Crime, Forensic Medicine and Genetics. Published translations include three books by Richard Handscombe. Worked with Euro Weekly News since November 2006. Well-travelled throughout Spain and the rest of the world, fan of Harry Potter and most things ‘geek’.