31 July 2017

Kenya: China, U.S. and Kenya Team Excavates Skeletons of People With Chinese Blood

Photo: Continentalis/Wikimedia Commons
Chinese navigator Zheng He's travels in the 15th century.

A team consisting of archaeologists from the United States, China and Kenya has excavated skeletons of people determined to be with Chinese blood on Manda Island in Lamu County of Kenya, Chap Kusimba, who headed the group, announced at the first "Ancient and Contemporary Relations Between China and East Africa" conference on Friday.

Kusimba, a professor with American University, said it marked the first time such relics were found in East Africa. Zhu Tiequan, an archaeologist with Guangzhou-based Sun Yat-sen University, said the excavation on the island began in December 2012.

According to the team, the skeletons, altogether three of them, had front teeth that are exclusive for the East Asians and after DNA analysis, they concluded that the skeletons were associated with Chinese blood.

The analysis estimated that one of skeletons might be determined to be at the same period as the time when Chinese navigator Zheng He travelled to East Africa in the 15th century. The other two are determined to be living in a period after the admiral's expeditionary voyages.

Kusimba said these people might have come to East Africa through land trade routes or the Maritime Silk Road, adding that no belongings were found at their tombs.

Other relics, including the ruins of an ancient town and Chinese beads and coins, were also excavated on the island by the team.

Zhan Changfa, Secretary General of China Foundation For Cultural Heritage Conservation, said the discovery was made possible thanks to the integration of archaeology and anthropology, and the application of natural scientific technology helped decode more information related to the materials excavated.

Zhan added that the excavation of these relics have provided valuable resources for the study on the exchanges between China and East Africa in ancient times.

The 3-day conference, which opened on Friday, has been jointly organized by the National Museum of Kenya, School of Sociology and Anthropology of Sun Yat-sen University and American University. More than 30 experts from countries including China, U.S. and Kenya participated in the event.

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