Mexican archeologists found a Mayan slave ship

Ground view of an ancient mayan ruin

Mexican archaeologists have found the remains of a Mayan ship in the Gulf of Mexico. This is an outstanding achievement, as it is the first time a Mayan slave vessel is located in the centuries. So, everybody is pretty excited about this discovery. 

Where the Mayan Slave ship was found

In an announcement, the National Insititute of Anthropology and History said that the archaeologists discovered the ship’s raments back in 2017.  They found the remains about 2 millers/3.7 kilometers away from the Sisal port and 22 feet/7 meters under the ocean’s surface.  

Mayan slave ships are the only thing missing from this illustration of a mayan inspired island

However, at that time, the researchers were not sure what they have found.

They started their research and study, and after three years of continuous work, have confirmed that the vessel belonged to the 19th century, and it’s called “La Unión.” 

The INAH has made vital revelations concerning the operations of this Mayan-vessel. Furthermore, the research institute reported that between 1855 and 1861, the ship had served the purpose of transporting the captured Mayan people to Cuba. 

In addition, this period marked the time of the rebellion war known as the Castle War.

Mexico banned slavery in 1829. But the cruel business continued in secret. This ship supposedly carried 25-30 Mayans to Cuba each month. Forced to work, the Mayans were. Primarily as slaves in the sugar cane industry.

What the experts say about the Mayan Slave ship

An INAH archaeologist Helena Barba Meinecke said

“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.” Barba continued that “For researchers … the discovery is highly relevant,” 

The researchers identified the ship from an exploded boiler and the burnt timber wooden signs they located.  Reportedly, the ship had an accident on September 19, 1861, on its way to Cuba. Half of the 80 crew members and 60 onboard passengers had died in the accident. Moreover, the passenger list didn’t include the Mayan slaves’ record. The capturers carried them as cargo or merchandise. Unclear how many Mayans died in the accident.


This ship is a crucial discovery and would help uncover many more facts from history. As INAH said in a press release,

“Beyond the difficulty in identifying a wreck by name, it also speaks to an ominous past for Mexico that should be acknowledged and studied in terms of its context and time.”