Feature

Unearthing the reality of slavery

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  08 Nov 2019:
Vol. 366, Issue 6466, pp. 678-681
DOI: 10.1126/science.366.6466.678

You are currently viewing the summary.

View Full Text

Log in to view the full text

Log in through your institution

Log in through your institution

Summary

The lives of enslaved Africans in the Caribbean are some of the most enigmatic in modern history. Historical documents note facts such as the number of enslaved people who lived on different plantations, their genders and ages, and their places of origin. But the records reveal almost nothing about the daily lives of the enslaved. Archaeologists are now excavating plantations, including the sugar-producing Estate Little Princess on St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands, to reconstruct the experiences of enslaved Africans forced to live and work there. Humble artifacts including buttons, cooked bones, and shards of pots and porcelain are vital clues to how enslaved Africans maintained their individuality and humanity within a system designed to strip them of both. And by studying the vegetation, water systems, and other environmental features of plantations, these archaeologists are also documenting how slavery literally reshaped the islands—and the world.

View Full Text

Stay Connected to Science