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These Enslaved Africans Arrived In America Before Christopher Columbus

Photo: slaveryimages.org

 

Before Christopher Columbus discovered the New World, Africans are thought to have arrived. Archaeological discoveries in a cemetery in Campeche, Mexico, revealed the remains of the first African slaves who worked in America in the mid-1500s.

Douglas Price, an archaeologist at the University of Wisconsin who published the findings in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, stated that the notion that Africans were brought to America during the 18th century at the height of the slave trade was incorrect because some were already settled in the country.

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He told the New York Times that they discovered these details while remodeling Campeche’s central plaza, which was a bustling slave port during the colonial era. At least 180 people’s skeletal remains were discovered at an old church and its burial site.

The researchers reached this conclusion after examining the teeth of four of the remains, which revealed that they were born in Western Africa. They exhibited African characteristics in the way their dentures were filed and the chip sharp edges on their teeth. Scientific analysis of the burial ground remains revealed that some of the remains were also of European and Indian origin.

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More shocking findings on the four dental remains were discovered during an examination of their dental disfigurements. They came to the conclusion that the four were African slaves who had been shipped to Africa, not their children. The remains were linked to slaves who were shipped from Elmina, a coastal community in Ghana that was heavily involved in the slave trade.

Prior to this discovery, Price stated that no evidence had been published indicating that slaves of African descent had been buried in America during this time period. Historical records and maps have now confirmed that burials took place in the area where the archaeological discoveries were made from the mid-16th century to the 17th century, with the researchers discovering a pre-1550 medallion in one of the graves.

Richard H. Steckel, an Ohio State University professor who studies the health and nutrition of pre-Columbian American Indians, added that the nature of the cemetery suggests that those buried there either converted to Christianity or attained some status warranting burial in the church cemetery.

He stated that there is enough evidence to conclude that there were African slaves in America in the 1500s, but little is known about their health. William D. Phillips, a Historian Professor at the University of Minnesota, said he is not surprised by the presence of African slaves because Campeche was historically an important route for the Spanish Crown in the shipment of slaves to America.

According to the researchers, this evidence indicates that Africans were present in the Caribbean Islands and America prior to Christopher Columbus’ first voyage in 1492. With the expansion of sugar plantations in Mexico and Peru, the number of African slaves increased exponentially.

According to some, the presence of Africans in Spanish America was far greater than that of Europeans during the 1600s. Herbert S. Klein, a Stanford historian of Latin America and author of studies on slavery in the region, said the demand for cheap labor in the 1600s resulted in an exodus of more Africans to Mexico and other Caribbean islands. This explains why, over 400 years after Columbus’ discovery of America, an estimated number of slaves of African descent were transported to America.

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Written by How Africa News

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