On 8 December, CitiGen PI Hannes Schroeder was featured in a Nature Magazine article for his ancient DNA work on human remains excavated from an African burial ground on the island of St. Helena.
For part of the nineteenth-century, the island served as a drop-off point for British ships who had intercepted Portuguese and Spanish slave ships, as part of an economically motivated campaign to forcibly “liberate” other countries’ human cargo after the abolition of the slave trade in Britain. While some were eventually repatriated to mainland West Africa, an estimated 10,000 died of diseases such as smallpox and dysentery and were ultimately buried on this extremely isolated island, where Napolean Bonaparte famously spent his final days in exile.
The Nature article highlighted some of the outcomes of an interdisciplinary study conducted on the St. Helena site by members of the EUROTAST project, a Marie Skłodowska-Curie training network, which aimed at using archaeological, anthropological and ancient DNA techniques to pinpoint the geographical origins of some of the burial site’s population. You can read the article in full here.