New Hampshire has posthumously emancipated 14 slaves who fought in the Revolutionary War and asked state lawmakers for their freedom more than 230 years ago.
A group of 20 slaves submitted a petition to the New Hampshire General Assembly on Nov. 12, 1779, while the war was still being fought. They argued that the freedom being sought by colonists should be extended to them, as well, and maintained that “public tyranny and slavery are alike detestable to minds conscious of the equal dignity of human nature.”
Gov. Maggie Hassan signed a bill Friday emancipating the 14 slaves, who were never freed before they died.
“Their plea fell on deaf ears,” she said at a ceremony. “It is a source of deep shame that our predecessors didn’t honor this request. But today, more than 230 years too late for their petition, we say that freedom truly is an inherent right not to be surrendered.” Read more.
RIO DE JANEIRO — In a rundown part of Rio de Janeiro’s harbor district, archaeologists are digging up fragments of a history many Brazilians would rather ignore.
Up to a million men and women forced into bondage in Africa emerged from the bellies of ships onto the Valongo wharf of what was once the world’s busiest slave-trading port. Today, as Brazil surges forward on the world stage, scholars hope the trove of beads, bracelets and statuettes they are finding will also prompt Brazilians to look backward with greater interest at their slave heritage.
The wharf that was intentionally buried in 1840 and replaced by a beautiful new port is coming back to light as part of a $5 billion project remaking Rio’s port region for tourism and business ahead of the 2016 Olympic Games.
“There was a real desire to erase Valongo, to erase this history, to take it right off the map,” said Tania Andrade Lima, chief archaeologist of the dig, as she pointed out Valongo’s rough, uneven stones. “These were sidewalks made for slaves to tread,” she said, contrasting them with the checkerboard of polished flagstones of the replacement wharf that replaced it. Read more.
ScienceDaily (Mar. 8, 2012) — Archaeologists from the University of Bristol have unearthed a unique slave burial ground on the remote South Atlantic island of St Helena. The excavation, which took place in advance of construction of a new airport on the island, has revealed dramatic insights into the victims of the Atlantic slave trade during the notorious Middle Passage.
The tiny island of St Helena, 1,000 miles off the coast of south-west Africa, acted as the landing place for many of the slaves, captured by the Royal Navy during the suppression of the slave trade between 1840 and 1872. During this period a total of around 26,000 freed slaves were brought to the island, most of whom were landed at a depot in Rupert’s Bay. The appalling conditions aboard the slave ships meant that many did not survive their journey, whilst Rupert’s Valley — arid, shadeless, and always windy — was poorly suited to act as a hospital and refugee camp for such large numbers. At least 5,000 people are likely to have been buried there. Read more.
Roadwork excavations in Marsa have revealed the archaeological remains of a Muslim cemetery dating back to 1675, confirming historians’ belief of the existence of a Turkish slave cemetery in the area.
The find is being documented and excavated by the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage and an archaeologist specialising in documentation of human remains is closely following the investigation.
The roadworks have been temporarily halted on the relevant sections until the preservation works are complete.
Sections likely to be impacted by ongoing roadworks will be scienti-fically extracted and taken to the superintendence for further testing, analysis and conservation.
The unaffected parts will be protected and left on site, undisturbed. Read more.
Danville, VA — The Danville Industrial Development Authority found a burial site when they purchased a plot of land.
The 158 acre lot behind Goodyear has been around for a very long time. The archaeologist leading the investigation says they can potentially determine the height, diet, and history of those buried. Now, they’re trying to figure out just who they were.
At first glance, it looks like an ordinary wooded landscape. But below the surface is a window to the past.
“Our archeologist that we hired, Lyle Browning from Richmond, found a stained area which he proclaimed to be a burial remain area,” said Jeremy Stratton, director of the Office of Economic Development.
“The working assumption is that they may be African-American slaves and descendants. But we have absolutely no idea yet,” said Lyle Browning, president of Browning and Associates.
The IDA purchased the former Coleman Property, hoping to turn it into an Industrial Park.
But before they could break ground, they had to investigate it. Read more.
Crews of scientists with wooden spoons and small metal picks dig carefully around bones embedded in a dry lake bed, excavating what is believed to be the remains of freed slaves and their children buried in a long-forgotten cemetery.
More than two dozen graves were exposed this summer in a section of a reservoir that dried up in the severe Texas drought. Officials later organized a thorough excavation effort and were recently embroiled in a brief legal battle over where to rebury the bones.
With the legal issues resolved and the excavation effort two weeks from completion, the unidentified skeletal remains then will be moved to a cemetery in Navarro County where other black families have been laid to rest.
“I’m pleased that we’re able to finally move them to a place of dignity and honor,” said Bruce McManus, chairman of the county’s historical commission.
A memorial marker will be placed at the new burial site about 80 miles southeast of Fort Worth, but identifying the newly discovered remains likely will not happen. Crews have found no nameplates on the wooden coffins that have long since deteriorated, and no headstones were in the cemetery on land that became Richland-Chambers Lake in the 1980s. No DNA testing is planned. Read more.
The Romans founded London as a centre of trade and business in about AD 50 - or so archaeologists have long believed.
But new evidence suggests the capital has a more chilling history, built as a military base by slaves who were then slaughtered. Hundreds of skulls discovered along the course of the “lost” river Walbrook suggest London may have been built by forced labour.
Dominic Perring, director of the Centre for Applied Archaeology at University College London, says the skulls could be those of Queen Boudica’s rebel Iceni tribesmen who were brought to London to build a new military base.
In an essay published in this month’s British Archaeology magazine, Mr Perring argues that some of the skulls had been de-fleshed, which suggests the slaves may have been executed after building work was finished. Read more.
A set of undocumented brick building foundations—“a little island of preservation” hidden for centuries beneath William & Mary’s Historic Campus—will provide a glimpse back into the College’s time-shrouded early years.
“It is wonderful that our colonial campus, about which so much is known, still can surprise us after all these centuries,” said Louise Kale, director of William & Mary’s Historic Campus.
College archaeologists say the partially unearthed foundation looks to be the remains of “a fairly massive outbuilding,” a structure that was almost certainly associated with slaves who worked at William & Mary in the early 18th century. The foundation runs 20 feet east-west and more than 16 feet north-south. The remains extend underneath a sidewalk south of the Wren Building. Their discovery prompted postponement of scheduled repairs to the sidewalk. Read more.