Centuries old slave cemetery found on Sint Eustatius
Archaeologists found a centuries old cemetery on Sint Eustatius, where they believe enslaved people were buried. 48 skeletons were excavated from the site in just over a month, NOS reports.
The cemetery was found in the area intended for the expansion of the island's airport. In the 18th century, the slave quarters of a sugar plantation was located nearby. A team of international archaeologists started digging in the area at the end of April, and excavations will continue until the end of June.
So far, the researchers found mainly the remains of men. A coin dated 1737, depicting the English King George II, was found on one coffin. "The first analyzes show that these people are of African descent," Alexandre Hinton of the Sint Eustatius Center for Archaeological Research said, according to the broadcaster. "Furthermore, we found two individuals with dental modifications consistent with West African traditions. Plantation owners did not allow slaves to do this, so these individuals may belong to the first generation enslaved to be shipped to Sint Eustatius."
The skeletons will be examined for diet, geographic origin and possible diseases, among other things, Hinton said. This research is expected to add a wealth of knowledge to the little objective information currently available about the living conditions of enslaved people in the Caribbean. Most of the known information came from the people in power or those who managed the plantations.
Sint Eustatius, a special Dutch municipality, was an important hub for world trade in the 18th century, after the Dutch Republic made the island a free port. The island was also a transit port for enslaved people from Africa.