Published in

National Academy of Sciences, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, p. 201421784

DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1421784112

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Genome-wide ancestry of 17th-century enslaved Africans from the Caribbean

This paper is made freely available by the publisher.
This paper is made freely available by the publisher.

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Abstract

The transatlantic slave trade resulted in the forced movement of over 12 million Africans to the Americas. Although many coastal shipping points are known, they do not necessarily reflect the slaves’ actual ethnic or geographic origins. We obtained genome-wide data from 17th-century remains of three enslaved individuals who died on the Caribbean island of Saint Martin and use them to identify their genetic origins in Africa, with far greater precision than previously thought possible. The study demonstrates that genomic data can be used to trace the genetic ancestry of long-dead individuals, a finding that has important implications for archeology, especially in cases where historical information is missing.