Vítimas do Terramoto de 1755 no Convento de Jesus (Academia das Ciências de Lisboa)

Victims from the great 1755 earthquake at the Convento de Jesus (Academia das Ciências de Lisboa)

Antunes M.T. Academia das Ciências de Lisboa, R. da Academia das Ciências, 19, 1249-122 Lisboa e Centro de Estudos Geológicos da Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Portugal, E-mail: ip241333@ip.pt

e-Terra
volume 3 - nº 1 - 2006

e-terra.geopor.pt

Palavras-Chave: Vítimas, 1755, Terramoto, fogo, violência.

Key-words: Victims, 1755, earthquake, fire, violence.

Resumo: Divulgamos os primeiros resultados, apresentados preliminarmente em 12 de Dezembro de 2005 na Academia das Ciências de Lisboa, essencialmente consagrados aos primeiros restos de que há memória de vítimas do terramoto e tsunami de 1755. Baseiam-se em material colhido no claustro do antigo Convento de Nossa Senhora de Jesus.
A coordenação do Projecto multidisciplinar correspondente é da responsabilidade de M. Telles Antunes, tendo as escavações sido dirigidas por J. L. Cardoso. Predominam restos humanos misturados, não em conexão anatómica, ocupando espaços então ainda livres das sepulturas onde haviam sido efectuadas inumações normais de frades. Associados, ocorrem cinzas, madeira queimada, sementes, restos de peixes incluindo escamas, de grande cobra, aves e mamíferos, em grande parte relacionados com alimentação humana.
Os restos correspondem a pelo menos 214 indivíduos desde a mais tenra idade até idosos. Há adultos de ambos os sexos. O total pode ser estimado em poucos milhares, evidência que corrobora outra indicando que os corpos não foram depositados completos, por absoluta carência de espaço. Parecem compatíveis com portugueses, exceptuados raros negros. Tudo indica inumações expeditas de restos misturados, trazidos de locais não necessariamente próximos após exposição mais ou menos prolongada, no decurso do reinado de D. Maria I e da Regência de D. João, conforme sugere a numismática. Não são enterramentos primários.
É frequente a evidência de traumas por acidente (por ex., crânio de criança perfurado por pedra pontiaguda) ou outras causas, bem como de exposição a fogo, inclusivamente com abertura e explosão de crânios. Ocorrem modificações por mordidelas de cão e ratazana, além de restos de coleópteros necrófagos.
O elevado número de indivíduos e a distribuição por classes etárias indicam efeitos do catastrófico terramoto e o dilatado período dos trabalhos de limpeza subsequentes. Alguns restos podem provir de vítimas do tsunami, como sugerem alterações cloretadas de objectos de prata susceptíveis de ser devidas a água salgada, de vagas ou de cadáveres arrojados à costa.
Classes etárias e número de indivíduos evidenciam um espectro de distribuição distorcido: com número acima das expectativas de jovens adultos (Jad) e adultos (Ad), em contraste com o de idosos (Ids) (CI – classes etárias indeterminadas), o que é compatível com um evento catastrófico.
É numerosa a evidência de patologias; o estado de saúde era amiúde deficiente.
Ocorrem cerâmicas, vidros, cachimbos, pregos, alfinetes e outros objectos de ferro e cobre, contas de rosário, um dado, botões (e placas de osso para produzir botões), moedas, medalhas religiosas, restos de tecidos e calçado, balas de chumbo, etc.
Alta violência, incluindo assalto e assassínio foi muito comum na situação de anarquia subsequente ao terramoto, o que agora é comprovado. Material humano mostra lesões sem sobrevivência, às vezes repetidas, produzidas por instrumentos cortantes-contundentes, nem sempre suficientes como causa mortis, mas que poderiam ter sido praticadas para aterrorizar vítimas (frequentemente mulheres), assassinadas logo a seguir.
Há evidência de agressão a tiro numa mulher ca. de 30 a 40 anos. Marcas de corte e outras de agressão ocorrem em não menos de 15 crânios (46.9%), incidência muito elevada. Bandidos podem ter beneficiado da dificuldade ou impossibilidade de identificação de cadáveres submetidos a fogo.
Em conclusão, novos dados demonstram, para além dos documentos escritos, pontos de vista que antes só poderiam ser postos como hipóteses.

Abstract: Some contributions about the great November 1st, 1755 earthquake were presented December 12, 2005 at the Academia das Ciências de Lisboa in a joint session held by this Academy, the Academia Portuguesa da História and the Academia de Engenharia. Among these are included new results of studies on human and other material collected at the former monastery of Jesus’ cloister (Convento de Nossa Senhora de Jesus from the Ordem Terceira Franciscan friars), the building being granted in 1834 to the Academia das Ciências de Lisboa.
The first material that was found justified an intervention and further studies. The whole project was coordinated by M. Telles Antunes. Excavations in the southern wing of the cloister under the direction of João Luís Cardoso yielded mixed, dissociated, never in anatomical connection human remnants that have been deposited in all vacant spaces inside the tombs and over previous friars’ normal inhumations. Human material is associated to ashes, burnt wood, a few seeds (pine, gourd, grape), fish bones and scales (many from the now rare shad Alosa alosa), a large Montpellier snake (Malpolon monspessulanus), bird remnants (mainly from domestic fowl), and mammals: mice, rat, rabbit, pig, sheep, cattle, dog and cat. Most are human food garbage.
Besides numerous vertebrae, ribs and limb bones, there are more than thirty more or less complete human skulls as well as mandibles from at least 214 individuals since a few weeks’ old children to very old people, including male and female individuals. All come from about one fourth of the total area that could be excavated. Hence the total number of individuals in the South and East cloister wings may well be estimated in about a few thousand. This undoubtedly shows that corpses were not brought complete, available space being too small. Most seem compatible with a Portuguese population, but a few remnants clearly point out to Negroes (two Negro female slaves died nearby during the earthquake).
A few hairs are known, probably from the friar’s corpses.
Manufacture products are common: ceramics, glasses, fragments of Dutch, English and Portuguese smoking pipes, iron and copper nails, buckles, copper clasps and pins, rosary beads, a bone dice, bone buttons and bone plates for their production, a few coins, metal buttons covered by glass or enamel, religious medals and crosses, shoe parts, tissues’rags, two lead bullets, etc.  
Evidence indicates quick inhumations of human remnants brought from elsewhere and not necessarily from the neighbourhood during the reign of D. Maria I and the Regency of Prince D. João, as numismatic elements suggest. Materials were stired again until the 20th century.
Corpses should have been reduced to skeletal parts that later were displaced. That explains why they occur so mixed up and does not indicate primary burials. Bones seem nearly devoid of organic matter as especially of proteins as a result of more or less long exposure; mainly in winter, humidity and rainwater circulation certainly contributed to eliminate organic compounds.  Some stains on skulls may have resulted from blood coagulation related to intense exo- and endocranial bloodshed.
There is often evidence of traumas, wether by accident (as shown by an infant skull pierced by a pointed stone found in situ) or other causes, as well as of heavy fire exposure, sometimes with skull opening and splinting quite like as if it exploded.
Modification by predators is shown by dog and rat bite marks. Some skulls yielded exoskeletal parts of necrophagic coleoptera.
The rather high number of individuals and distribution by age classes point out to the great effects of the catastrophic earthquake and of a rather broad time span of the ensuing cleaning work. Total roughly estimated numbers largely exceed the victim numbers accounted by Pereira de Sousa (1931). 
Some remnants could be from tsunami victims killed in lower parts of Lisbon, as in the S. Paulo and Conde Barão quarters, as suggested by chlorine alteration of a few silver objects (bone silver). Their origin may be related to saltwater either directly brought inside by the wawes or from corpses thrown to the coast.
Mandibules provide some interesting population data. Age classes and number of specimens show a distorted spectrum: there are indeed too much young adult (Jad) and adult (Ad) people than it could reasonably be expected in contrast with old (Ids) people (CI – indeterminate age classes). This seems in agreement with a catastrophic event and not with a population living in normal conditions. The high mortality in young persons could be expected. Mortality is higher in young adult and adult males (see Fig. 5 A), whereas it is less marked in females (B); Women predominate among the elder persons (C).
There is a lot of pathologic evidence. Health was often poor. Seemingly quite common anaemia may be related to quite poor nutritional and sanitary conditions. Dental pathologies as dental loss in life, caries, periapical abscesses, osteomas and hypoplasies are most common.
High violence, including robbery and murder, was most common in the state of anarchy that prevailed in Lisbon just after the earthquake, a situation that was known but has been quite undervalued. Banditism accounted for a heavy toll. Lesions without survival and sometimes repeated indicate aggressions with cutting-contusing weapons. In some cases they do not seem enough as causa mortis, but could have been performed in order to terrorise victims (often women) that were slained just after.
There is also evidence for shotgun aggression performed on a 30 to 40 years old woman (Fig. 6) and maybe in two other cases. Cut and other aggression marks have been detected in not less than 15 skulls, including a skull from a child, on a total number of 32 or 46.9 %, a very high value. Bandits profited from fire effects that could make corpse identification difficult or impossible. The situation was stabilized after troops went into Lisbon (November 6th). Many bandits and robbers were hanged (Fig. 7).
As a concluding remark, let us stress that new data clearly demonstrate viewpoints that could previously taken only as hypotheses. They go well beyond written documents.

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