More evidence has surfaced of Africans in the Americans dating back to 1550’s.
Researchers have found the remains of African slaves in a 16th century Mexican graveyard, confirming historical accounts of African travels to the New World. The graves were discovered near the ruins of a colonial church in Campeche, Mexico, a port on the Yucatán peninsula. The authors of the study, details of which were published Tuesday, say the remains are the earliest physical evidence of African slaves in North America to his knowledge.
The cemetery and the foundations of the church were uncovered in 2000 by builders. The site was then excavated under the direction of the Autonomous University of the Yucatán. Archaeologists found fragmented remains of four Africans likely to be young to middle-aged men, Prof Price said. Researchers identified the remains by looking for a chemical in tooth enamel linked to the bedrock of their native Africa. The remains date from the late 1500s to the mid-1600s. Archaeological and historical evidence suggested the graveyard was used from about 1550 to the late 1600s, Prof Price said.
“Part of what is surprising and interesting about this is where the bones are. They are right in the middle of the city,” Prof Restall said. That means African slaves were given Christian burials on hallowed ground within the city walls but separate from the Spaniards. Such practices contrasted with the way slaves were treated farther north.
“I think it is particularly interesting because you have African slaves from Africa, you have Europeans from Spain and you have Maya Indians initially all together in this church cemetery,” Prof Price said. Early in their rule, the Spanish enslaved Indians but turned to African slaves as European diseases killed many indigenous people, researchers said.
Photo is not of actual site but a similar one