Oldest cemetery in Lima uncovered

On Wednesday Peruvian archaeologists announced the discovery of the city’s first cemetery remains in the old Royal Hospital of San Andres located in the heart of Barrios Altos, Lima, Reuters reported.

The discovery is part of Lima’s Historic Centre recovery programme.

The space, considered the first hospital for Spaniards built in Peru in 1552, functioned as a hospital until 1875.

Currently, the complex is made up of three patios, the chapel and the ancient nursing rooms.

We have found approximately 40 bodies, male and female, in varying ages between 30 to 55 years old,” the manager of the recovery programme of Lima’s Historic Centre Luis Martin Bogdanovich said.

“In addition to the bodies, we have found architectural structures, such as the remains of the ancient Calvary, the Mount Calvary (stoned area emulating the Sacred Mount Calvary), which are talked about in documents from the 16th century that were here in the cemetery and marked the presence of the cemetery, associated with the chapel, the inpatient rooms and a funeral crypt that we believe is from the 17th century,” he added.

The Lima archaeology team, led by Prolima, a recovery programme of Lima’s historic centre, began the building’s investigation in 2021 and found 42 human burials in the area occupied by the old hospital cemetery.

In addition, an underground crypt was found in the form of a brick-vaulted structure, which was probably functioning for almost 300 years.

Fragments of pre-Hispanic pottery were also found from before the hospital’s construction, glass beads remains dating back to the founding years, and brick and boulder floors from the 16th and 17th centuries.

Lima’s Historic Centre

According to UNESCO “the Historic Centre of Lima, known as the “Ciudad de los Reyes” (City of Kings), is located in the Rimac valley, and was founded by Spanish conqueror Francisco Pizarro in January 1535 on the territories led by the Chiefdom of Rimac.” Although severely damaged by earthquakes Lima “was, until the middle of the 18th century, the capital and most important city of the Spanish dominions in South America,” the UNESCO World Heritage Convention official website stated.