Brazil's Valongo Wharf Archaeological Site added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List
Valongo Wharf Archaeological Site is located in central Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and encompasses the whole of Jornal do Comercio Square.
The World Heritage Committee of UNESCO on 9 July 2017 added Valongo Wharf Archaeological Site in the World Heritage List.
The committee, during its meeting in Krakow, Poland, stated that Valongo is the most important physical trace of the arrival of African slaves on the American continent
About Valongo Wharf Archaeological Site
• Valongo Wharf Archaeological Site is located in central Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and encompasses the whole of Jornal do Comercio Square.
• The place where the site stands is the former harbour area of Rio de Janeiro where the old stone wharf was built for enslaved Africans who arrived in South America through Valongo from 1811 onwards. An estimated 900000 Africans arrived at that time.
• Valongo was the place where the slaves, often sick after the voyage, were taken to be quarantined, sorted and sold.
• The site possesses several archaeological layers, the lowest of which consists of floor paving in pe de moleque style, attributed to the original Valongo Wharf.
The Valongo Wharf Archaeological Site received support from the International Scientific Committee of UNESCO’s 2013 Project for its inclusion in the World Heritage List as it reiterates the history of slavery and its legacy in the Americas.
Presently, the Valongo site is not on the water, but on inland after the expansion of the original city. The remains of the African slaves were discovered by accident in 2011 during the urban renovation of the central area of the city of Rio de Janeiro.
After few archaeological diggings, it was found that the Valongo complex included the Wharf, a group of warehouses used for quarantining, displaying and selling the Africans. At that time, a couple, residing nearby the site, discovered that their house was sitting on a mass grave of what could be tens of thousands of slaves.
Historians knew that this was the area where the biggest slave trade in the Americas was centred, but few Brazilians were scrupulously aware of it.