3 Very Strange Finds in Lisbon

Chinese ceramic bowl

Archaeological excavations in an old convent have found a piece considered to be unique in the world for its rare erotic images on a Chinese ceramic bowl from the 1600s. It seems to have been painted to “teach” several sexual practices, and these types of explicit images were thought to have only been used in similar pieces in the late 1800s. How would such a thing end up in a convent, of all places? Well, for one thing, Lisbon’s convents weren’t always the most sacred places on Earth. Their male and female residents were actually known to live with bigger freedoms than those on the “outside world.” Inquisition documents show that love affairs and homosexuality were actually frequent. Many nuns were even lovers of the Portuguese kings. One of them even had to build a palace just for his bastard children born of those relationships (that palace is now the Spanish Embassy). These nuns were also quite rich, receiving precious gifts which may explain the origin of this well-kept treasure.

Recent research has found that one of the mummies in Lisbon’s Archaeology Museum died of the first known case of prostate cancer in an Egyptian mummy. Using scans and X-ray technology, they came to the conclusion that this is a unique specimen and the second oldest case of cancer found to date, dating from 305 to 30 BC. This is even more special for Lisbon’s museum, since it only has a few mummies on display, as most of its collection is finds from around Portugal, dating from the Celtic, Germanic, Roman and Moorish occupations of the country.

Investigators looking into a burial site of the victims of Lisbon’s 1755 earthquake have come to a macabre conclusion. During the apocalyptic days after the catastrophe, the city was a living hell, where even cannibalism took place. Some survivors were actually murdered for food, judging from the evidence found on many skulls. Many of the victims were shot or simply hit on the head, which in itself would not prove cannibalism if a bone hadn’t also been found to have had careful cuts made with a big knife used to help peel off the meat.