Mexican archaeologists identify the first Mayan slave ship to have ever been discovered

A diver swims near an iron skylight from the bow area of the Mayan slave ship "La Union," off Sisal, in the Yucatan peninsula, Mexico.

(CNN)Archaeologists in Mexico have confirmed that a shipwreck discovered off the coast of the Yucatan peninsula once carried captured Mayans who were sold into slavery.

It is the first Mayan slave ship ever discovered, according to Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), which made the announcement on Tuesday.
The paddle wheel steamboat, known as "La Unión," was discovered by archaeologists in the Gulf of Mexico two nautical miles from Sisal in 2017. But it took three years of research to confirm that it was a Mayan slave ship.
    La Unión illegally captured and transported about 25 to 30 Mayans monthly to Cuba, where they were forced to work in sugarcane fields between 1855 and 1861. This was during the rebellion known as the Caste War, according to INAH.
      Divers swim near the wreck of "La Union," which carried Mayan people for slave trade in the 1850's, off the coast of Sisal, Yucatan, Mexico.
      "Each slave was sold to middlemen for 25 pesos, and they resold them in Havana for as much as 160 pesos, for men, and 120 pesos for women," INAH archaeologist Helena Barba Meinecke said in a