The “slave pit” of Lagos (Portugal): contribution to the understanding of funerary treatment of African slaves in the 15th and 16th centuries

Duration: 2010 ‐ 2012

Abstract: This project focuses on a transdisciplinary approach to the vast urban trash deposit found at Lagos, where a skeletal sample of African slaves (n = 156), discarded during the 15th ‐ 16th centuries was identified. This unique finding preserves the physic memory of the first slaves captured on the African coast and brought to Portugal from 1444, enabling direct documentation of their living conditions. The analysis of the field data and the preliminary reading of historical sources will be coupled in order to enable a glimpse to the social and mental picture that dictated the burial of these individuals in a waste disposal site accumulated through decades. A micro-spatial and temporal approach of the individual’s distribution inside the mortuary space will also be performed to promote a better understanding of the complex Web of social and economic relations resulting from the arrival of slaves to Portugal.

Coordinator: Miguel Almeida, Dryas Arqueologia

Participants: Maria João Neves, Maria Teresa Ferreira, Sofia Wasterlain, Ana Maria Silva e Marta Furtado

Partner institutions: Department of Life Sciences, University of Coimbra

Financial support: Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian