Genetic impact of slavery abolition in Mauritius: Ancient DNA data from Le Morne and Bois Marchand cemeteries


From a demographic point of view, the island of Mauritius can be considered a multicultural melting-pot derived from forced and free labor, as it was there where the British conducted the 'Great Experiment' to replace slaves with indentured workers after abolition.

Despite the huge potential that Mauritius offers for studying admixed populations, it has remained uncharacterized from a genetic perspective until now. Several genetic markers have been analyzed in the current Mauritius population with the aim of understanding its present-day structure. However, to better ascertain the temporal evolution of its composition, the analysis of ancient human remains is required.

Ancient DNA data was retrieved from two different archaeological sites in Mauritius. The cemetery of Le Morne dates from the 1830s and is thought to contain the remains of slaves or freed slaves, within the maroonage movement of slaves’ freedom. The Bois Marchand site is a nineteenth-century cemetery that is expected to reflect the population composition during the indentured worker period.

Here, we present a comparison of the genetic composition of historical and modern samples to interpret population genetic changes in Mauritius over time, within the historical context of European colonialism, transoceanic slave trade, and Indian and Chinese diasporas.

SAA 2015 abstracts made available in tDAR courtesy of the Society for American Archaeology and Center for Digital Antiquity Collaborative Program to improve digital data in archaeology. If you are the author of this presentation you may upload your paper, poster, presentation, or associated data (up to 3 files/30MB) for free. Please visit for instructions and more information.

Cite this Record

Genetic impact of slavery abolition in Mauritius: Ancient DNA data from Le Morne and Bois Marchand cemeteries. Rosa Fregel, Martin Sikora, Krish Seetah, Hannes Schroeder, Carlos Bustamante. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 397135)