Universiteit Leiden

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Cervantes meets Archaeology: Forensic and archaeological research in the Trinitary cript in Madrid

Monday 28 November 2016
Van Steenis
Einsteinweg 2
2333 CC Leiden
Central hall

A conference in commemoration of the 4th century anniversary of Cervantes’s death.






 Luis Ríos

Children's health in the historic downtown of 19th Madrid: the infantile cemetery of the crypt of the Trinitarias Luis Ríos



Coffee break


 Almudena García-Rubio

Cervantes in the light of Archaeology: digging up in the crypt of the Trinitarias" Almudena García-Rubio



Vino Español


The Graduate School of Archaeology in Leiden and the Instituto Cervantes (Utrecht) organize the event “Cervantes meets Archaeology” to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the death of Cervantes, author of El Quijote (Don Quixote). The event will adopt an innovative approach to the figure of Cervantes from archaeological research, which is the common ground for all those who work in the Faculty of Archaeology. The event aims to contribute to the knowledge of the figure of Cervantes in the Netherlands and the most recent and ground-breaking archaeological research in Spain.

Laser reconstruction of the interior of the Trinitarian church in Madrid, includng the crypt of Cervantes.

Almudena García will present a paper dedicated to the research on the crypt of the Trinitarian order, where Miguel de Cervantes was buried in 1616. However, due to the succession of constructions and alterations in the convent in later years, the exact location of the burial site was lost. In February 2015 an archaeological excavation took place in the crypt of the convent of the Trinitarian order to find this burial. During the course of excavation unexpected finds emerged. Furthermore, a field laboratory was installed to analyze the encountered skeletal remains. Contemporaneously, historical research was conducted in the archive of the convent, intended to bring to light unpublished documents. Thanks to the multidisciplinary collaboration between archaeologists, historians, anthropologists, forensic and other specialists it was possible to clarify what happened to the remains of Cervantes.

Luis Ríos will elaborate on other aspects of the excavation of the crypt to further explain the context of the research. He will present a 19th century infant cemetery found in the crypt. This find raises two questions that have to be addressed within the historical context of 19th century Madrid: the origin of the cemetery, and the etiology of rickets in the child population of the historical town. The origin of the cemetery could be related to the poor living conditions of the population of Madrid during most of the 19th century, causing several outbreaks of cholera, particularly deadly in 1834 and 1854. We present here the first attempt to integrate archival, archaeological and palaeo-pathological information in order to explain the presence of the cemetery and the high frequency of rickets.

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