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Remains of Headless Conquerer Found

May 6, 2000

MANAGUA, Nicaragua (AP)_ Archaeologists have found the headless remains of a Spanish conquistador in the ruins of an old Nicaraguan city, local media reported Saturday.

The remains of Hernandez de Cordoba _ who was decapitated 474 years ago by Nicaragua’s governor _ were found last Sunday in a destroyed church in Leon Viejo, 50 miles west of the capital, academic Clemente Guido was quoted by local media as saying.

De Cordoba joined in the conquest of Mexico and founded the first Nicaraguan cities under Spanish rule, Leon and Granada, in 1524. Two years later, Nicaragua’s ruler at the time, Pedrarias Davila, had him decapitated for treason.

His head reportedly was put on public display and his body left for the vultures.

The city of Leon was destroyed during the eruption of the Momotombo volcano and relocated west, where it is currently located.

The remains were discovered in the destroyed city by two archaeologists searching for the tomb of Pedrarias, who was also responsible for the execution of Vasco Nunez de Balboa, the first European to view the Pacific ocean.

The researchers said the lack of a head on the remains and their presence in an area of the church reserved for people of high social and religious rank confirmed that they were de Cordoba’s. They also cited, without elaborating, historical documents that confirm the identity of the remains.

Archaeologists continue looking for Pedrarias’ remains, which allegedly were buried in a metal box adorned with jewelry.

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