It was one of the busiest slave ports in the Americas, a filthy, bustling harbour where hundreds of thousands of Africans were sold into a life of exploitation and abuse.
Famished, exhausted and with their heads half-shaved, the slaves were herded off ships, groomed in “fattening houses” and dispatched to sugar and coffee plantations across Brazil.
Now, nearly two centuries after Rio’s notorious Valongo wharf began operating, local archaeologists believe they may have located the slave port’s ruins during a multibillion-dollar, pre-Olympic renovation of the city’s harbour. “As soon as the discovery was made I went there,” said Washington Fajardo, Rio’s secretary for cultural heritage. “It is a moving experience, seeing an existing city and then another city two metres below. You feel a bit like Indiana Jones.”
Story: Tom Phillips, The Guardian | Photo: Abd/AP