Mr. José Miguel de Barandiarán Ayerbe was born in Ataun (Gipuzkoa), on the 31st of December 1889.
He studied humanities in the Tutorship of Baliarrain (Guipúzcoa) and philosophy and Theology at the Councillor Seminary of Vitoria.
In the summer of 1913, he attended the courses given by Prof. Wundt, author of the great work VOLKERPSYCHOLOGIE, at the University of Leipzig. The guidance of Professor Wundt had a clear reflect on his later anthropologic and ethnographic research.
He was ordained priest in December 1914 and graduated in Theology at the Ecclesiastic University of Burgos in 1915.
In 1916, he published his first work entitled "Ataun in the Middle Ages" in the magazine EUSKALERRIAREN ALDE, printed in San Sebastián.
Working as a teacher at the Seminary of Vitoria, he delivered the inaugural speech of the 1917-18 term, using as his subject the Basque Prehistory. As a result of the publication of this speech, Barandiarán got in touch with the famous French expert in prehistory Henri Breuil, who put him in touch with the German expert in prehistory Hugo Obermaier.
In that same year of 1917, Barandiarán had got in touch for the first time with his later master, Dr. Aranzadi, at that time Professor at the University of Barcelona. Together with Dr. Eguren, Professor in Oviedo, they formed the archaeological team who worked together during the next 20 years, until 1936.
In 1922, Barandiarán and Dr. Aranzadi travelled to Europe, visiting museums and institutions in Paris, Cologne, Mainz, Munich, Leipzig, Berlin, Holland, Aachen and Tilburg.
In this Dutch city, he delivered the speech "La Religion des Anciens Basques" at the International Congress of Religious Ethnology.
In 1926, he is appointed Rector of the Seminary of Aguirre and Vice-rector of the Councillor Seminary. According to his friend and collaborator Mr. Manuel de Lekuona, Barandiarán was the leader of a complete scientific reform concerning the studies at the Seminary of Vitoria as well as the driving force of a wider reform concerning Basque studies in general, promoting the anthropological and natural sciences.
In 1929, he travels again and for the second time with Dr. Aranzadi, visiting anthropological institutes and societies in Barcelona, Lyon, Geneva, Bern, Zurich, Vienna, Innsbruck, Lucerne, Interlaken and Bordeaux.
Between 1917 and 1936, the team formed by Barandiarán and the Doctors Aranzadi and Eguren carries out a series of archaeological excavations throughout the Basque Country: dolmens of the Aralar (1917), Aizgorri (1918), Ataun-Burunda (1919), Altzania (1920), Encia and Elosua Placencia (1921), Belabieta and Urbasa and the artificial caves of Santimamiñe (1924,1925 and 1931), Lumentxa in 1925, caves of Ermittia as well as others in Guipúzcoa (1924 and 1927), Bolinkoba (1933), Urtiaga-itziar (1936).
In 1931, he publishes his work A brief History of the Primitive Man among the works he had been publishing in the Anuario de Eusko Folklore.
In 1934, he publishes in the Basque and Spanish version, his synthesis work: The Primitive Man of the Basque Country.
At the London´s conference in 1935, he is appointed member of the standing board of the International Congress of Anthropology and Ethnography.
In 1939, he takes part in the International Congress of Anthropology in Copenhagen with his speech on The Basques Ancient Religions.
As a result of the civil war, he travels to the Lower Pyrenees and lives there from 1936 to 1953, moving to the town of Sara in 1942.
In 1946, he creates the "Institut Basque de Recherches", called Ikuska and starts the publication of a Journal with the same name, relating to the research carried out.
In 1947, he is appointed chairman of the Sociedad Internacional de Estudios Vascos, in whose publication Eusko Jakintza, take part the most famous European experts in the field of Basque Studies.
From 1946 to 1950, José Miguel took part intensively in international congresses : London and Oxford (1946). Paris, Congress on Archaeocivilization (July 1947), Musée de l´homme (September 1947), Paris (1948), Brussels (1948), Brussels (1949).
In 1953, he returned to the Basque Country and gave a conference on the Present Situation of the Basque Studies at the University of Salamanca at the request of its Rector, professor Tovar.