BY ANADOLU AGENCY
Archaeologists have found 250 graves on Barcelona football player Gerard Pique’s property in the Spanish city of Malaga, where he intends to build a five-star hotel.
The graves form part of a medieval Muslim cemetery buried beneath the Andalusian city – one of many reminders of the centuries-long Muslim rule of the area.
Most of the graves, however, were found to be empty, archaeologist Alberto Cumpian, who is leading the excavation of the Pique property, told Spanish broadcaster Cadena SER.
“That’s possibly because the graves never needed to be used. They date back to the 15th century, and the leading hypothesis is that they were built around the same time that Christian forces were conquering the area,” Cumpian said.
Pique bought the property, which formerly hosted a movie theater, in 2017. The excavations have been going for years, and Cumpian said it is likely that the hotel’s construction could begin early next year, after the archaeological work concludes.
He said the graves on Pique’s property, which make up around just 5% of what was one of the largest Muslim necropolises on the Iberian Peninsula, are being closely documented and that archaeological objects are being removed.
The most significant discovery, he said, was a funerary stele that contained information about a family buried in the area.
The Barcelona footballer’s company paid 20 million euros ($19.8 million) for the 3,000-square-meter (0.74-acre) site located in Malaga’s historic center, according to Cadena SER.
Cumpian told the Spanish broadcaster that the discovery of the grave came as little surprise to members of his profession, who understand the layers of history that time has covered in Malaga.
Whether or not Pique was aware that he was buying a plot of ancient burial lands has yet to be determined.