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The African diaspora: An archaeological perspective


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The African diaspora, in its broadest terms, is the dispersal of people of African descent from Africa to other parts of the world – particularly Europe, America and Southwest Asia. The process has been occurring over much of the past 2,000 years in various ways, with different cultures and societies involved.

Through much of this time, slavery has been the driving force behind the diaspora. The Roman Empire drew some of its slaves from sub-Saharan Africa. Arab slave traders drew slaves from northern sub-Saharan Africa and East Africa for more than 1,000 years, taking them to Southwest Asia. Slaves were taken from Africa by Christian slave traders to work in the Americas from soon after the time it was visited by Columbus (sometimes called the post-Columbian period) to the middle of the nineteenth century, when the trade was finally eradicated.

We will focus on the third of these – the diaspora to the Americas by way of the transatlantic slave trade. This unit is an adapted extract from the course World archaeology (A251) [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .

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