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IRUÑA-VELEIA. A City and its communications network.

On the 27th of April 2001, an emblematic reference for Basque Archaeology and the future of Iruña-Veleia in particular was established. On that date, an agreement was signed between the company EuskoTren (Eusko Trenbideak-Ferrocarriles Vascos S.A.) and Lurmen S.L. (the company in charge of excavating Iruña-Veleia) in order to carry out the IRUÑA-VELEIA III. Millenium Project. This pioneering initiative in the field of cultural sponsorship will enable a 10-year project to be developed. It is designed to solve the problems of the site from the point of view of conservation and didactics and to make substantial progress in scientific knowledge.

In this scene, the Local Government of Alava (The Diputación Foral) is stand out, the Institution competent of the archaeology in the country (according to Act 7/90 relating to Basque Cultural Heritage and Regional Laws) and also, owner of most of the pieces of land in wich the archaeological site of Veleia is. In this way, the Local Government authorizes and collaborates in the actions developed in this site.

Thus a new stage began for the Iruña-Veleia site. Joining funding from Eusko Tren (today together with ETS-Euskal Trenbide Sarea) and support from the Alava Foral Council are other important contributions for specific actions, prominent among which are Iruña-Veleia Archaeological-Historical Study, sponsored by the Basque Ministry of Culture, and the Master Rehabilitation Plan for the Veleia walls, sponsored by the Ministry of Culture, both of which are promoted by the Municipal Council of Iruña de Oca, where the site is located.

Therefore, through the development of the Iruña/Veleia III Millenium project, we intend to solve the problems currently affecting the archaeological site, from the conservation ‘in situ’ of the architectural remains to the diffusion of the scientific outcome of the survey and elaborating also "Directive Plan of Iruña-Veleia" with its projection into the future.

One of the main reasons for the existence of this enclave is its location by the main land route in the North of the Peninsula, the "De Hispania in Aequitania ab Asturica Burdigalam" (From Astorga to Bordeaux) Roman road.

An urban centre dynamicing its surrounding area.

Archaeological research has established, in the case of the territory of Alava, the existence of almost a hundred and fifty places in which the presence of remains dating back to the Early Imperial Roman period has been detected. Of these, over 80 are settlements of all types, the city of Veleia being of special note.

The late Roman period meant even a greater preponderance of Veleia. Over 70 settlements of this period are known and the building of the city wall dates from this time.

The main import and redistribution centre of the Basque Country and in its hinterland in the Roman era.

Thanks to its position and entity, the widest variety of goods would reach Veleia, originating both from the surrounding region and from much further away. Ranging from perishable goods (oil, wine, salted foods, seafood, etc.) to building materials (from the ubiquitous "marble" of Ereño in Vizcaya to other marble veneers from Tarraconensis, the north of Africa and Italy) and all kind of wares (Spanish Samian ware from the workshops of la Rioja, Gallic from Montans and La Graufesenque; late Spanish Samian ware from the area of Najerilla and the Meseta, African and late Gallic; common regional ones of all type together with Italian and African imports; regional, African and Rhineland glassware). Alongside with these, we have found professional instruments, revealing the presence of specialists in the city, and dress accessories, a reflection of a whole world of cultural relations.

All these factors have made the IRUÑA-VELEIA III. Millenium project worthy of the cultural attention of the society Eusko Tren (Eusko Trenbideak-Ferrocarriles Vascos S.A.) which has just approved its Eusko Tren XXI Strategic Plan as a business strategy to face up new transport routes in the Autonomous Community of the Basque Country, including the renewal of the new railway network on a Trans-European level. Thus, by way of an additional initiative to their invests in infrastructures and with a long tradition in the cultural field (the Railway Museum of the Basque Country in Azpeitia), Eusko Tren will be financing the project in this archaeological site for a decade.
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