(CNN)Despite the wealth of knowledge regarding the transatlantic slave trade, the history of enslaved Africans forcibly brought to Latin America has yet to be fully explored.
The personal stories of 3 enslaved Africans, as told by their bones
In a study published Thursday in the journal Current Biology, scientists tell the stories of three 16th-century enslaved Africans identified from a mass burial site in Mexico City, according to analyses of their bones.
African roots may have been invisible in Mexico and Latin America because of the history of the mestizo in Mexico, said first author Rodrigo Barquera, a graduate student at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Germany. Mestizo refers to people of white European and indigenous American ancestry.
"The Mexican mestizo celebrated the European and Native American roots coming together very strong after a little bit of struggle, but they usually leave out the African roots when they're talking about this story," he added.
Barquera and his team of researchers are hoping that their findings, captured within the bones of these enslaved Africans, will be a step in sharing their stories and addressing the erasure of history in the self-identities of Mexican peoples.
When the researchers noticed modifications on the individuals' teeth indicating different African cultural practices, they decided to study their genetics and personal histories.
"All of us involved in the study were highly touched by the whole story about these three persons, everything that they went through," Barquera said.
"Knowing that they were first-generation enslaved Africans brings a new perspective on the whole subject because you know they were abducted. You're seeing all these maltreatment signatures on the bones that came with this abduction, what they suffered for the rest of their lives.
"Everyone working on this paper was telling us a different part of the whole story. Our results in the end came to a whole story."