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Afrocolonial Archaeology in Panama: La Villa de Santiago del Principe, the first free African peoples of the Americas

Author(s): Jordi Tresserras ; Tomas Mendizabal ; Ricardo Piqueras ; Javier Laviña ; Marta Hidalgo

Year: 2015

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The first free African peoples of the Americas were the inhabitants of the town of La Villa de Santiago del Príncipe, founded in 1579 when Don Luis de Mozambique and his followers became the first group of cimarrones (escaped slaves) to negotiate a peace with the Spanish Crown, after decades of what came to be known as the "Cimarron wars". These were a conflict in which cimarrones would predate upon Spanish isthmian trade routes and even support foreign attacks on the mainland. Weary of the fighting, the Crown called upon those cimarrones who wanted peace and granted them a full pardon and their freedom, and after negotiations, also land to settle and goods to trade. Archival documentation and cartography state that Santiago lay not more than one league to the east of Nombre de Dios, the Caribbean terminal of the Camino Real across the Isthmus. Following these leads, archaeological surveys and test excavations in the area in early 2014 located evidence of a 16th century occupation that due to its location, size, ceramic typology and chronology, we contend is the town of Santiago. We present the documentary and material evidence to support our claims.

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Afrocolonial Archaeology in Panama: La Villa de Santiago del Principe, the first free African peoples of the Americas. Tomas Mendizabal, Jordi Tresserras, Javier Laviña, Ricardo Piqueras, Marta Hidalgo. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 396148)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -94.702; min lat: 6.665 ; max long: -76.685; max lat: 18.813 ;

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America