SANTA CRUZ DE TENERIFE, Jan. 17 (EUROPA PRESS) –
The General Directorate of Cultural Heritage of the Government of the Canary Islands, in collaboration with the Department of Cultural Heritage of the City Council of La Orotava, finances several surveys in the Church of San Francisco to try to locate and corroborate the archaeological potential of the old convent of San Lorenzo.
Its historical importance lies in the fact that ‘El Escorial de Canarias’, as Viera y Clavijo called it, was one of the first Franciscan convents after the conquest of the Canary Islands, in fact, it was the first monastic foundation in La Orotava, so this institution it is key in the original organization of what would be the later city.
In 1519 the Franciscan friars constituted the convent of San Lorenzo at the initiative of the conqueror Bartolomé Benítez de Lugo, nephew of the Adelantado Alonso Fernández de Lugo. This monastery once had 60 monks and served as the chapterhouse of the province of the Canary Islands as early as the 18th century, however, in 1801 a large part of the structure was destroyed by a great fire.
The flames consumed the buildings, images, furniture and documents, only the stonework front of the church and some works of art were saved from the fire, which is why this archaeological investigation led by the PRORED team is decisive in recovering the almost three centuries of history of this enclave.
Among the objectives that are intended to be achieved with this first intervention is to provide archaeological evidence if the old monastery continued its orientation towards the south and “identify what could have been the original floor of the convent that disappeared in the 19th century,” Hacomar explains in a note. Ruiz, co-director of the project.
As has been confirmed, “the leading role of the church and Christianisation was fundamental in the conquest and colonization of the Canary Islands”, explained the general director of Cultural Heritage, Nona Perera, who insisted that “the establishment of temples and religious orders supported a model of conquest that needs to be known so that the past of the Canary Islands has fewer shadows and for this it is essential to study these enclaves”.
For the delegate councilor for Cultural Heritage of the City Council of La Orotava, Delia Escobar, “with this first phase, historical justice is done in an enclave that was fundamental for the development and evolution of the municipality no more and no less than three centuries ago”.
For the City Council, he continues, “it was great news that the General Directorate of Heritage supported and endorsed the proposal presented and we are also happy to know that the intention is to continue working and investigating with a second phase that could be developed throughout 2022 also opening it the disclosure with various activities “.
ARCHEOLOGY OF ARCHITECTURE
According to the main hypotheses, the convent of San Lorenzo was located in what is now the Hospital de la Santísima Trinidad and the Church of San Francisco, but its extension was much larger, occupying approximately 2,600 square meters.
As it is such a large area, four surveys were carried out in an unbuilt space attached to the Church, where vestiges that could have been part of the original construction were found.
“The documentation tells us that the old convent was in this area and with the archaeological intervention we are following in the wake of some construction elements that already indicate the architectural importance of this space with a Corinthian column or a stone arch”, Ruiz advances.
Through the Archeology of Architecture and the photogrammetric record, “different wall units and construction elements can be recognized that explain the architectural evolution of this space,” says the archaeologist, such as landslides, remodeling, subsequent construction, reoccupation, structures combustion, among others.
The study of the sediments contributes to deciphering human behavior in relation to that place since each archaeological stratum preserves different historical events superimposed on each other, and therefore each one contains varied information about the functionality of the convent.
The recovered sediment has been sifted to ensure the maximum recovery of the archaeological material that includes fragments of vessels, glass and metal elements, various fragments of fauna, but also debris from the time when the Hospital was in operation.
After this first phase, a possible second archaeological intervention is proposed, already in extension, to be able to relate the different stratigraphic units located and the registered construction elements.
In addition, the work team proposes the possibility of developing different outreach activities, encompassing this space within the rich cultural and artistic heritage that Villa de la Orotava already possesses in order to understand its past.