FEBRUARY 2015: A Strontium Isotopic Perspective on the Origins of Human Trafficking Victims from Nineteenth-century Africa

The EUROTAST fellows will be presenting the findings of their research at the upcomingGenetics/Heritage conference, 23-25 April at the International Slavery Museum in Liverpool. Deadline for submission has been extended to March 15. To submit a paper or to attend the conference, visit the Genetics/Heritage website.


George Hutchinson’s View of St Helena, 1815

Title: A strontium isotopic perspective on the origins of human trafficking victims from nineteenth-century Africa

Authors: Judy Watson, Andrew Pearson, Geoff Nowell, Alex Bentley, Alistair
Pike, and Kate Robson Brown


In the middle of the 19th century, approximately 25,000 African captives were taken to St Helena Island in the south Atlantic when the ships illegally trafficking them to the Americas were intercepted and seized by the Royal Navy. The Africans were liberated, and those that survived were mostly relocated to the British Caribbean. An archaeological excavation conducted in 2008 excavated the remains of 325 of the approximately 7400 liberated Africans who died after arriving at St Helena. Chemical analysis has been conducted on the teeth of some of these individuals. The results of this analysis have been used in combination with historical and other evidence to learn more about where in Africa the people taken to St Helena were from, and by extension to try to contribute to our understanding of the cultural and geographical origins of African forced migrants and 19th-century voluntary immigrants in the Americas.


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