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Cemetery Found at Caribbean Sugar Plantation Site

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

ORANJESTAD, ST EUSTATIUS—The Associated Press reports that investigation ahead of a construction project revealed an eighteenth-century cemetery on St. Eustatius, an island in the northeastern Caribbean Sea colonized by the Dutch in 1636. The island became a hub for sugar and the trade in enslaved people from West Africa. Most of the 48 skeletons uncovered so far belonged to men, although the remains of a few women and infants have also been found. “Initial analysis indicates that these are people of African descent,” said Alexandre Hinton of the St. Eustatius Center for Archaeological Research. Some of these individuals may have been among the first generation of people enslaved at a sugar plantation known as Golden Rock. Chemical and DNA analysis of the bones could provide information about diet, place of birth, and health status. The researchers also found remnants of coffins, coffin nails, tobacco pipes, beads, ceramics, and a 1737 coin featuring an image of King George II of England. For more on sugarcane and enslaved West Africans in the Caribbean, go to "Alcohol Through the Ages: Triangle Trade."

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