Human Remains Found Under Colonial Church of Nicoya

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In conjunction with the repairs that are being made to the Colonial Church of Nicoya, a group of archaeologists hired by the Center for Investigation and Conservation of Cultural Heritage found 15 human skeletons beneath the church.


According to archaeologist Fernando Camacho, the one-meter-deep excavations were conducted during the month of September.


“We are in a stage of analysis so the conclusions we have are preliminary and later a final report will be submitted to the National Museum. It seems that the burials were done between 1800 and 1850,” stated Camacho.


According to the expert, the church was used as a cemetery in the 19th century. In addition, he explained that this is not the first time that bodies have been found since the remains of about 30 individuals were found in the area around the church in the 1990s.


Another fact that they determine is that the burials were of Christians due to the position in which the individuals appeared. The 15 skeletons had their heads oriented toward the west and were positioned in a way that they were surely buried in a casket or box, although these were not preserved. In addition, everyone was on their backs with their hands placed on the abdomen or chest.


These characteristics are very different from pre-Columbian burials since those cultures usually buried the dead in a fetal position, facing different cardinal directions.


The archaeologist explained that research in the Colonial Church of Nicoya is very difficult since little information exists because lightning struck the rectory in 1730 and burned all of the documents.

About 14 construction workers work on the first phase of rebuilding the Colonial Church to finish the work by January of 2016.

Reinforcing the Church

Currently, the church is undergoing restructuring of the walls. According to engineer Oscar Flores, of the Center for Research and Conservation of Cultural Heritage, repairs of the property have been divided into two phases.

The first phase is to restructure the side walls of the church with carbon fibers. The second phase will focus on the front and the rear.

The first phase is expected to be completed by the end of December. For now, the dates for the second phase have not been determined.