Skeletal Remains of syphilis victims unearthed in the foundation of 16th century spanish hospital in Peru
By M.P. Pellicer | Eerie.News
Few could imagine that inside a house in Lima, Peru, located on a busy street, close to where there was once a massacre, and doors away from a costume shop, a hospital that treated the insane and those suffering from syphilis had been erected 500 years before.
On January 18, 1535, coinciding with Epiphany, Conquistador Francisco Pizarro built a church in Lima. In 1538, the Hospital de Nuestra Señora de la Concepción was planned, however it wasn't built until 1552 and renamed the Hospital Real de San Andrés which was founded by Viceroy Andres Hurtado de Wildoso, a military officer.
The area chosen was next to the existing Convent of Santo Domingo.
Prior to this Francisco de Molina cared for indigent patients at his home in what is now the Barrios Altos area of Lima, but now they had a place to go.
In 1868, a yellow fever epidemic raged, it claimed 6,000 lives making it evident the hospital was inadequate to meet the needs of the growing population. In 1875, the building was converted into an orphanage for girls. The convent continued there, and another hospital was built called Hospital Nacional Dos de Mayo.
The original building is believed to be the oldest hospital in South America.
Twenty years ago, remains of a 19th century fountain, the cemetery, a garden, a colonial-era trash pit and a vaulted structure was unearthed.
Hector Walde, a lead archeologist in Lima explained, "That people who did not survive treatment were buried here." Skeletal remains were discovered under only 12 inches of earth.
Two years ago archaeologists started to unearth a complex that covered 2 acres. It housed the mentally ill, and a classroom for physicians dating back to the 16th century.
According to historians, the mummies of Pachacutec, Huayna Capac and Tupac Yupanqui and two others were sent from Cusco, which was the capital of the Incan Empire, to Lima. Viceroy Andres Hurtado de Wildoso ordered they should be buried at the hospital. For the last two hundred years, efforts have been made to find their remains, but without success,.
Fifty of the skeletal remains in the forgotten hospital cemetery were Spanish men, many who had died from syphilis, or bone deformities in their skulls. Archaeologist also found a copper cross, hanging from the neck of one of them, probably used to ward off the uglier symptoms caused by the disease.
According to the Columbian hypothesis sailors in Columbus' fleet "brought the previously unknown affliction back to Europe on their return from the New World in 1493 AD." The connection between the disease and promiscuity were not lost on the Christian population of the 16th century, who believed the devil's hand was at work. This could also explain the design of the building as a crucifix.
The patients who came to the hospital were given a bed in the passageway so they could hear mass. Walde said, "Ritual and religion were very strong."
The orphanage transitioned into a public school, where children ran and played above the forgotten graves. The school closed after the earthquake of 2007.
Within the last hundred years, the land was used for a police station, various shops and a Chinese restaurant. In 1991, 15 Peruvians were killed by a clandestine military group, in another building.
Archaeologists have also found a crypt and pre-Hispanic ceramics that predate the hospital.
Eerie News | Stories of the Mysterious and Unexplained
For all the latest news articles and stories about the world of the paranormal and the unexplained.
Fair Use Act Disclaimer - This site is for educational purposes only. Copyright Disclaimer under section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976