This is Europe, where the history comes from. You can't dig a hole in this continent without discovering something.
It's a bloody nightmare for gardeners.
Apple has plonked its flagship Madrid store atop the ruins of a 15th century hospital built to care for plague victims. According to a report in Spanish-language newspaper El Pais, which we ran through Google Translate, the Apple store not only has a load of iGoods "in its basement", but the remnants of the city's old Buen …
A nightmare for builders too, I suspect. When I was about 10 years old, it became known that bones were turning up on a local building site. A group of us went down there and picked a few choice items out of a trench, including a human vertebra that I subsequently took to school to show to the history teacher. The street sign said something like "Orchard Close (formerly Pesthouse Lane)", so this too was probably the remains of a plague hospital. You can see why they changed the street name.
This was back in the fifties when:
- a trench containing human remains was not cordoned off by the Police
- no archeologists were involved
- it didn't seem risky for kids to poke around in a plague burial
- a primary school teacher wasn't much fazed when a kid turned up with human remains
hehe. In Spanish, computers are female (La Computadora) though sometimes they have it as a male (El Computador). Spaniards have male sorting machines (El Ordenador), haven't seen them use that word as a female though.
(BTW, the 'sorting machine' variation was inherited from French, wonder what gender they use for ordinateur?)
There are a lot of places where things are being built on top of cemetaries, churches, plague hospitals, battlefields. The amount of land available is finite; and if it is long enough ago, probably won't be an issue.*
I once worked in a place where the cellar had been used as a storage place for slaves. There were still large iron bolts with huge rings in the walls as it would have cost too much to remove them. This was where they were all chained together in captivity.
It was an odd place; a lot of people didn't like working there. Apparently, several years after I was there, they had to have some work done and the back yard was dug up to get access to sewers. They found the remains of a large number of bodies (some children) that seemed to be from that period.
* Note that viruses can remain dormant for a long time before being re-activated and infecting people.
So is it not actually true that the plague bacillus can survive many centuries to infect someone who digs up a plague-pit? (Bubonic / Pneumonic Plague is a bacillus, not a virus, though some of the plagues might not really have been Plague. The symptoms also match a killer flu like the 1919 one, so far as one can tell from such contemporary medical description as has survived).
I had read that plague graves were best undisturbed for milennia. That should someone accidentally dig one up, they should immediately re-bury it, cease work, keep a VERY close watch on their health for the next couple of weeks, and change the building plans.
Not sure, but I seem to remember an incident where building work opened a plague pit that was coincidentally next to somewhere that had been an ice house for centuries*, and there were serious concerns about frozen bacilli having survived.
*That part seems implausible now I come to repeat it...
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