MONTEVIDEO – A battery of cannons that formed part of Montevideo’s defenses in the 18th century, and the remains of 19th century houses were discovered under a plaza in the Uruguayan capital’s Old Town, officials reported Tuesday.
During a press conference Tuesday, the archaeologist in charge of the exploration, Veronica De Leon, said that while no previous dig had ever been done in the area, “it was believed” the defensive walls erected around that area during the colonial period were waiting to be uncovered.
Specifically, the expert stated that eight excavations around different parts of the plaza found “part of the esplanade where a battery of cannons was set up, as well as the vault of a “cistern” that provided water for the 19th century houses.
“The landscape was completely different from what it is today: the water (in Montevideo Bay) came up as far as the buildings (in the plaza) and the cannons were pointed toward the coast,” De Leon said.
However, she added that “in 1829 there was a decree to dismantle everything related to the defensive system of colonial Montevideo, and after that the houses were built,” which are those uncovered in the recent excavations that are still open to the light of day.
In that sense, the archaeologist said that together with the ruins were found different items from the daily life of the time made of ceramic, glass and other materials, many different from one another because of the technical changes in the periods when they were made.
“The remains discovered constitute a document of true social value. It’s obviously desirable that they stay where folks can see and appreciate them,” the expert said.
For his part, the architect in charge of planning the works, Juan Diego Diaz, noted that the administration will try to integrate the historic discoveries into the changes being made in the recreational area, which will include new sports facilities and public areas, beginning with an investment of an estimated $1 million.