(Forbes) In the early 15th century, Portuguese explorers like Henry the Navigator began sailing to Africa, bringing back both goods and enslaved people. A new archaeological study of more than 150 skeletons dumped in Lagos, Portugal, reveals that many of the enslaved Africans were not given proper burials and that several of them may even have been tied up at death.
The skeletons come from the site of Valle da Gafaria, which was located outside the Medieval walls of the port city of Lagos along the southwest coast of Portugal. Used between the 15th and 17th centuries as a dumping ground, the site also offered up remains of imported ceramics, butchered animal bones, and a few African style ornaments. When the human skeletons were first analyzed, their shape and unique dental style suggested they may have been of African origin, and a later genetic analysis confirmed ancestry with southern African, Bantu-speaking populations. Due to the archaeological and historical information, it is likely that all of these people were enslaved.