Grave

500-year-old remains may be first African woman to reach the Americas

A woman’s body exhumed from this graveyard in what was once La Isabela, in the Dominican Republic, seems of African origin

Hackenberg-Photo-Cologne / Alamy

A 15th-century skeleton buried at the first European settlement in the Americas probably belonged to an unknown African woman, an analysis of her teeth suggests. The woman died in her mid-20s, within about five years of Christopher Columbus’s first voyage to the Americas, and decades before the start of the transatlantic slave trade.

“I think it’s possible that she may have been the earliest known individual of African origin to participate in European efforts to establish a settlement in the Americas,” …