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Campeche, one of the oldest European settlements in Mexico, was a gateway to the New World for European explorers and colonists and, evidently, slaves from Africa. Digging near the central plaza of the port city on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, archaeologists have uncovered the oldest physical evidence to date for slaves brought to the New World from Africa.
Image credit: Barry Carlsen
Photo date: January 2006

A study by James Burton and T. Douglas Price of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Vera Tiesler of the Autonomous University of the Yucatan provides the earliest definitive link between the African Diaspora and the New World. Digging in a colonial-era graveyard in Campeche, one of the oldest European cities in Mexico, archaeologists found and researchers chemically analyzed what they believe are the oldest remains of slaves brought from African to the New World.

Pictured here is a grave where skeletons of Africans were found in the cemetery in Campeche, Mexico.
Image credit: courtesy T. Douglas Price

Pictured here are upper incisor teeth that have been filed at an angle, a distinctive dental mutilation distinctive to African practices in the 16th century.
Image credit: courtesy T. Douglas Price

Pictured here, handwritten notes on a plastic bag document reference data for a molar tooth from one of the skeletal remains that was chemically analyzed in the Campeche study.
Image credit: Jeff Miller
Photo date: January 2006


James Burton, senior scientist in the Department of Anthropology and associate director of the Laboratory for Archaeological Chemistry.
Image credit: Jeff Miller
Photo date: January 2006

T. Douglas Price, professor of anthropology and director of the Laboratory for Archaeological Chemistry.
Image credit: Jeff Miller
Photo date: January 2006
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