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Kenyan probes potential 'slave' skeletons found in coast region

16.09.2013 - Update : 16.09.2013
Kenyan probes potential 'slave' skeletons found in coast region

NAIROBI (AA) – Kenyan authorities are investigating some 100 human skeletons, including skulls, discovered in Kijipwa village of the Kilifi County in the coastal region, an area believed to have been a holding ground for African slaves before being sent across the Indian Ocean to the Middle East and other parts of the world.

"The National Museums of Kenya is working with key institutions including the National Environment Authority (NEMA) and the Kilifi County government to assess the site," Jambo Haro, the head of archeology at the Coast National Museums of Kenya, told Anadolu Agency.

Construction workers stumbled on the skeletons as they dug the trenches for the foundation of a new hotel.

Haro, accompanied by officials from NEMA and Kilifi County, visited the site earlier Monday.

"We have stopped the construction of the hotel apartments pending an environmental impact assessment," he asserted.

Haro said the authorities are engaging "both the private developer and the community to ensure no further damage is done to the site."

Haro had first visited the site on Saturday after being alerted by local residents of the excavation and the discovery of a large number of skeletons.

- Slave settlement

Haro said most of the skeletons dug from the deep trench had been salvaged and moved to National Museum in Mombasa for safe custody and study. 

He believes the skeleton find had "potentially huge archeological deposits."

The official said the skeletons and all recovered artifacts would be subjected to various scientific analyses to determine the age of the fossils and the ruins to help arrive at a conclusion of who the inhabitants were.

The skeletons are thought to have been for slaves held at a settlement known in history as Kitoka, which existed more than 1,000 years ago.

The ruins of an ancient mosque still stand at the area.

Haro said the area is already recognized by the National Museums of Kenya as a heritage site.

"According to the National Museums and Heritage Act 2006, any site seen to have heritage resources, irrespective of whether it is private or public land, is recognized as such," Haro said.

He said the contractor bought the plot of land on which the new hotel is being constructed from the local community who has been taking care of the site near the ruins of a mosque.

Joseph Tondo, a local elder, told AA that some of the artifacts had already been stolen.

By William Oloo – Anadolu Agency

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