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New search underway for civil war grave of poet Lorca
A portrait of Federico Garcia Lorca. Photo: Jorge Guerrero / AFP

New search underway for civil war grave of poet Lorca

Fiona Govan · 20 Sep 2016, 14:10

Published: 20 Sep 2016 14:10 GMT+02:00

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A team of archaeologists have this week begun once again to find the site of the unmarked grave of Federico Garcia Lorca, this time digging up an area outside the town of Alfacar which was set aside in the 1980s to become a football pitch.

Lorca, the author of Blood Wedding, Yerma and the House of Bernada Alba, was executed by a Francoist hit squad during the first months of the Spanish Civil War and his body has lain in an unmarked grave somewhere on a hillside south of Granada ever since.

Lorca is widely believed to have been murdered, aged 38, by members of the Black Squadron who targeted him for his Left-wing views, Republican sympathies and homosexuality.

He and three others, including a one-legged school teacher and two local bullfighters, were said to have been shot at dawn on August 18th, 1936 and buried in the same unmarked grave on the edge of an olive grove.

During the last seven years several attempts have been made to locate his final resting place resulting in excavations by archaeological teams.

Ian Gibson, an Irish historian living in Spain and the author of a biography of Lorca,  pinpointed a site as the likely location of the grave after interviewing a man who claimed to have buried him. But a 2009 excavation of that site proved fruitless.

Three years later and another historian, Miguel Caballero believed he had located the site of the true grave, some half a kilometre away  after sifting through police and military archives.

But that search turned up nothing either, and archaeologists were forced to abandon the search as cold weather set in and funds ran dry.

The latest search is concentrated just meters away from the last one after their project was given an unexpected boost in the form of an anonymous donation. It will focus on an area that was set aside in 1989 to become a municipal sports field, when authorities levelled the ground with earth.

However, the sports field was never finished but the earthworks changed the landscape making the archaeologists work even more difficult. They have had to conduct geophysical and geoarchaeological surveys to try to establish where the most likely site of the grave lies.

Caballero, together with archaeology site director Javier Navarro Cheuca, are confident that this time they will find success.

They believe that Lorca and those killed with him were thrown in a disused well, a feature that was disguised by the earthworks used in preparation for the aborted sports field.

"If (Lorca) is there, we will find him," assured Navarro, the head of the team of archaeologists, in El Pais. "We have advanced our knowledge of the terrain and with scientific exploration have been narrowing it down."

Last month a judge in Argentina agreed to open a probe into Lorca's murder on the behest of Spain's Association for the Recovery of Historical Memory (ARMH).

Historians believe some 130,000 people were killed by fascist death squads during the three year conflict and ensuing dictatorship that ended with the death of Francisco Franco in 1975.



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Fiona Govan (fiona.govan@thelocal.com)

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