Bioarcheology: scientists study the African Diaspora and slavery’s genetic trail

Nature reports today on the beginnings of a vast new historical project aimed at fitting together the missing pieces of the African slave trade’s effects on the victims. One group will study bones of enslaved Africans for demographic, quality of life and chemical analysis information. Another will study written records of slave trade. But the largest focus of the study is on studying the DNA evidence in living populations of French Guiana to reconstruct the origins of the original slaves.

The study has the potential to bring up a host of uncomfortable subjects. For example, one lead researcher notes that the extent to which African slaves and their white masters may have interbred. And since much of the current historical record is “fragmented,” as another researcher put it, we may find that the routes to the Americas are not as straight as we once thought.

For more information on the study, see the Nature article posted below:

Filling in the gaps in the slave trade : Nature News & Comment.