Thursday, December 7

Alto Vico I, a prehistoric treasure discovered in the Cinco Villas half a century ago

Two archeology lovers, a valley full of almost uninhabited villages and landscapes, and an undiscovered treasure for all to see. They seem like the perfect ingredients to shoot an Indiana Jones movie, but nothing is further from the truth. This is the story of a site: Alto Vico I, located on the banks of the Onsella River, in the upper Cinco Villas, and its discoverers; a couple from Navarra formed by a psychiatrist and the first occupational therapist who practiced in Spain, both lovers of archaeology, history and collecting.

Gisela Wegener set foot in Spain for the first time in 1962, at the age of 23 and after a four-day drive from her hometown, Bremen. “My grandfather brought me, it was quite an adventure because those were other times and there were no highways or highways,” Gisela tells. Her grandfather was a watch collector. From him she inherited her passion for collecting and her curiosity, and she soon found someone to share them with. “I met my husband at the psychiatric hospital in Pamplona, ​​where we both worked. I was extremely lucky to come to Spain because here I found everything I loved”, she says happily.

Miguel Ángel Zuazua, a psychiatrist, and Gisela Wegener toured the towns of the high Five Villas of Aragon for more than a decade. They began to travel alone in 1963 and later they did it with their children. By the way, one of them is now an archaeologist. “We went in search of the silence of those uninhabited or almost uninhabited towns between Lobera, Sofuentes and Onsella”, explains Gisela. And in this movement through areas until then considered barren of deposits, they began to find ancient pieces of great value.

“It is true that there were other times for research, but we never saw any archaeologist in that area,” says the collector, who confesses that they never had to do any type of excavation to find these vestiges of the past: “The pieces were at the view of anyone who knew how to interpret them. Those excursions to the Onsella River and its surroundings resulted in the creation of the wide and rich collection today known as Zuazúa Wegener. The pieces were cleaned, cared for and arranged with care by this couple of fans. “Our house looks like a museum; Both my husband and I have always liked archaeology, we collaborated and met many archaeologists, to this day I continue to collaborate whenever they call me”, explains Gisela from her house in Pamplona.

The Zuazúa Wegener Collection

Five years ago, Dr. Miguel Ángel Zuazua passed away and his wife decided to give the boxes with the thousands of pieces discovered by both of them over decades to the Government of Navarra. “I thought they should be enjoyed by all the people who might be interested and, above all, return to their homeland,” explains Gisela Wegener. Until now, this collection has been kept in the Archeology Warehouse of the Government of Navarra where each piece has been cleaned and studied. Some of the remains are lithic (flint and polished axes), and others are metallic and ceramic from recent prehistoric and Roman times; all of them from deposits located in towns of the Cinco Villas.

Until a few years ago, little or nothing was known about this Alto Vico I site located south of the Sos del Rey Católico terminus, in the province of Zaragoza and bordering on Navarrese soil. In 2018, and largely thanks to the discovery made by its discoverers, professional field studies began.

The site starts in the final Epipaleolithic/early Neolithic (around 6000 BC) and will last until the final Neolithic (around 3000 BC). Although several technicians participate in the research project, specifically two people work at the site: Lartaun Pérez, prehistorian, and Ángel Jordán, archaeologist and research director.

The study being carried out at the Alto Vico I site is part of the Cabeza Ladrero archaeological project, since, as the experts explain, it could be within what would later be the territory administered by the city in Roman times. of Barking Head. The project seeks to learn about the dynamics of occupation of the territory from the appearance of the human being to the early medieval period, “which led us to focus on this site in the upper Cinco Villas,” says Jordán.

The Alto Vico I deposit

“We interpret the site as a stable town, possibly not too large, from which an incipient agriculture, perhaps subsistence, was developed around it and whose main resource for production/use of the territory would be livestock,” he explains. Angel Jordan. This data is interesting since from the site, which would serve as the head of the territory, two lines of movement have been identified: one towards the Sofuentes valley and the other towards the south, at least the area below the Galbarra ravine “in what perhaps would be a kind of transhumance carried out on a small scale in search of pasture and salt for the cattle”, he adds.

Transfer of goods

In 2021, the governments of Navarra and Aragón signed an agreement in which they undertook to order the archaeological remains of the Alto Vico I site. Currently, a technical work group made up of staff from the two administrations is It is in charge of determining the place of deposit of these materials, the regional or state ownership and the procedures for their transfer from Navarra to Aragón.

The president of the Aragonese community, Javier Lambán, in his last meeting with the Minister of Culture, Miquel Iceta, announced the creation of an exhibition with these archaeological remains before the end of this year. An exhibition in which the Autonomous Community of Navarra will collaborate and which will have the support and possibly the presence at its inauguration, as he himself stated, of Minister Iceta.