If you dig into the soil of Sint. Eustatius, you might sooner or later discover traces of a frightful past. The former Dutch colony was once an important center for the slave trade in the Caribbean.
Many descendants are searching for their roots, like Sherees Timber.
"I don`t know much about the history of my own family. I know about my grandparents. my grandparents were from and where they grew up. But prior to that I have no idea ."
On the grounds of the island airport (Oranjestad) archaeologists have discovered a former slave fiefdom. Maybe Sherees will find answers to their questions here.
53 skeletons have already been uncovered. First analyses show that they are people of African origin, probably the first generation of enslaved people who were brought to the island. The discovery is considered unique.
Never before has a burial site of this scale been discovered on any of the Caribbean islands.
"Every day we find new things. Spectacular finds that we never thought possible. What I find very special is that many burials have burial gifts. So objects that are placed in the grave with the deceased. And that is of course very nice. That brings the past very close, said Ruud Stelten, project leader.
In addition to the excavations, DNA analyses are to be carried out to find out where in Africa the former slaves came from.
By analyzing isotopes in bones and teeth, researchers hope to learn more about diet. Proteins in bones could indicate diseases. Ultimately, it is also a question of whether these people were born on the island or were deported there.
Most of what is known so far comes from the writings of colonial administrators and plantation owners.