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Dominican Republic

Author Solivagant
#1 | Posted: 2 Sep 2019 01:37 | Edited by: Solivagant 
Further to Zoe's review of the "Archaeological and Historical National Park of Pueblo Viejo, La Vega" and matters/questions arising (Number of Locations, Content, Museum, Google Map etc)

A. This (as far as I can discover) is the most detailed archaeological description of La Vega – a 319 page thesis written in 2008!! No need to read it all (though it does contain some interesting descriptions of what happened in those very earliest days of European colonisation of the Americas – in particular how the Taino were conquered and (ab)used, the name of their leader (Guarionex - the site chosen for La Vega was next to his village), the importance of Gold, the arrival of Africans and also the debates about how to "operate" the new colonies). On page 20 it shows a "Topographic contour map showing the 3 parts of the Concepcion de la Vega Park". However, as far as I can make out, the map only seems to show 2 separate parts (coloured blue).. However there are references to/descriptions of a range of built remains. In particular Section 5 refers to, inter alia, Fort, Monastery of San Francisco, "Palacio", Cathedral, Cistern and Aqueduct, Mint/Foundry, Hospital, Graveyard. Of the monastery it states "Its ruins, which constitute a non-contiguous segment of National Park property, are found approximately 1000m from what is considered the central part of the city". The best "map" of the central location is Figure 4-1 which shows most of the buildings mentioned above situated close to each other next to the fort - "This plan proposed a grid pattern city with the Cathedral at its center. A Plaza de Armas was to be found in front of it, with the Governor's Palace on the south end and the Fort at the western end. The fort bordered land under Native American cultivation". It seems clear that this "central area" is the same as we have marked on our map with the Fortaleza at the centre and is the one visited by Zoe. But that leaves the question about "other" Park location(s), including the monastery ruins, and the Google map location titled "Ruinas de la Vega Vieja" situated to the south which, presumably, the signs were taking Zoe to before she branched off (though, why that should be the case, given that the Fortaleza area IS the same as the ruins of Vega Vieja isn't clear).
B. Another web page describes the Museum and its current sad/closed situation. Zoe wouldn't have been able to visit it even if she had remembered it! "La Vega Vieja and its site museum are pending in time. All windows are closed and doors closed. Powder cabinets that protect archaeological pieces are visible inside the premises. It is the Lourdes Cáceres Mendoza museum, which until 2016 was open to the public in the ruins of the Fort of La Concepción, in the so-called Vega Vieja, a historic town included in a list of monuments and sites of Dominican cultural heritage that are in danger. The ruins that remain of that town include the traces of a fortress, a church and a convent, a water fountain, the foundations of many houses and the layout of the streets. Also the vestiges of one of the few indigenous cemeteries that are preserved in the country. Last December, when Diario Libre visited it, in the area of the cemetery the brush was covering the structures. A path for the visitor was rusty and threatened to collapse. It looked desolate and without posters that would explain to the visitor the most relevant data of the historic place. The same impression was perceived in the area of the Fort, which although it was cleaner, looked equally desolate." All of this is entirely consistent with the descriptions and map in the Thesis and confirms the Fort area as the main location.
C. This third Web site provides another description of a visit to the ruins - "The ruins of the original city of Concepción de la Vega (now called La Vega Vieja) .. was founded in 1495 by Bartolomeo Colombo at the Concepción fortress, which had been built by Christopher Columbus in 1494. When we arrived at the place we realized we were the only tourists. The entrance fee is 50 pesos. Even though the guide books say you can have a tour in different languages, the guide spoke only Spanish. He showed us the ruins of the Fransiscan monastery explaining where the library and bedrooms were. He also showed us the graves of the Taínos (pre-Columbian inhabitants of the Bahamas, Greater Antilles, and the northern Lesser Antilles). He mentioned that there was a custom to bury them in a fetal position. About a mile from this place, there are ruins of the fort, from which the Spaniards were shooting at the Indians. There also used to be a church and a prison, which were destroyed during the earthquake in 1564. More information and exhibits you can see in the museum (Museo Lourdes Caceres Mendoza). In the distance, up on the hill you can find the ruins in Santo Cerro (Holy Hill), where a famous miracle is said to have occurred that helped Columbus and his men defeat the Taínos in the battle. Columbus picked that hill because it was easy to defend and it provided a clear view of the Cibao Valley. The legend says that Columbus had planted a wooden cross at which he and his army prayed for success for the battle. Unfortunately during the battle the Taínos were unable to destroy it. Apparently Virgin Mary appeared above the cross and protected it from being chopped or burnt down. Now at the Iglesia Las Mercedes there is only a hole in the ground.". I conclude that it mainly describes a visit to the MONASTERY which, the Thesis states, is situated in a "non contiguous segment of the national park approx 1000m from the fort". That would explain the comment "About a mile from this place, there are ruins of the fort" etc. But what are the coordinates for the monastery?? One possibility is the current Google icon for the "Ruinas". But I think NOT and that it has been marked in error. A closer look at Google satellite view identifies some ruins south of that location at 19.285746, -70.545931. Furthermore with zoom and right click it can be seen that they are titled "Ruinas de San Francisco" and are around 1km in a straight line from the "Fortaleza"! This location is also TOTALLY consistent with the second blue location on the Page 20 map of the thesis.
D, A further complexity, however, is the Wiki description of the Park which states "the Archaeological and Historical National Park of Pueblo Viejo, La Vega (also known as the National Park of Concepción de la Vega), in the La Vega Province of the Dominican Republic, includes the old city of Concepción de la Vega, and the Pueblo Viejo gold mine". Could this be the 3rd location mentioned in the Thesis? But there is NO MENTION of any "gold mine" within the Park in any of the above 3 documents!!! The Thesis DOES however refer to the "Foundry" whose "main function was to smelt the gold collected in the area governed by Concepción, i.e. the northern part of the colony". This would seem to imply that there were multiple small gold mines around Concepcion and that none of them are included within the Park - and we know that the Spaniards were disappointed with the amount of gold they were able to acquire from the Taino. However this article from 2013 states that "evidence has been found of what appears to be the first mining camp on the entire island and America . This was revealed by the deputy director of the Museum of the Dominican Man , Harold Olsen Bogaert , during a conference on his archaeological investigations conducted in the area between 2010-2013. The museum representative before Barrick Gold also reported that signs of the presence of a church and a burial area have been found, where they are currently working on the location of the human remains of the miners who worked during the colony." The reference to "Barrick Gold" is of interest as they are currently operating the modern "Mina de Oro de Pueblo Viejo" – a major operation which "produced 581,000 ounces of gold in 2018" making it currently the 8th largest gold mine on the world. It is also situated around 80kms from the Fortaleza area. Could this really be a part of the Park and an element of any nomination??? It would seem that the Wiki entry is probably incorrect but that there are indeed archaeologically valuable finds being made in the modern Gold Mine area.
E. Zoe was told by the guard that there were "5 spots to visit" (or similar in Spanish presumably?) What could he have been referring to? We know that one he mentioned (the Capilla Bautismo Del Señor) is a modern building, so I suspect that he wasn't particularly attuned to Zoe's "UNESCO focus" and was just referring to places which any "normal" tourist would want to visit!! Probably that included the Santo Cerro as well, being the site of the "Miracle of Colombus" as described above (it has apparently become a major pilgrimage site across the years - presumably to help justify the Spanish conquest!). He might of course also have been referring to certain structures within the fort area itself together with the Monastery site.
From the title, it is clearly only the Park which is on the T List and I suggest that we conclude that it has just 2 T List locations (as per the "Thesis map") and ( ELS??? )
a. re-title the current coordinates as "Fortaleza"
b, add the second location as "Ruinas de Monasterio de San Francisco" 19.285746, -70.545931 ]
PS. I have since discovered this article making it clear that the Park only has 2 locations.

Author elsslots
#2 | Posted: 2 Sep 2019 13:51 
From the title, it is clearly only the Park which is on the T List and I suggest that we conclude that it has just 2 T List locations (as per the "Thesis map") and ( ELS??? )


Author Zoe
#3 | Posted: 2 Sep 2019 14:51 
Great find of the second site. I drove east at the Capilla Bautismo Del Señor so i didn't see it. I am guessing that is whay to the google map entry is supposed to be but one cannot edit it. Site is probably in shambles too. Sad. I also took the steep road up to Santo Cerro but there was nothing like ruins on the hillside.

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