The oldest slave cemetery on the Atlantic Ocean has been found at Santa Maria de Guia, an archeological site located on one of the Spanish Canary Islands off the northern coast of Africa, Telesur reported Tuesday. By using the DNA recovered by radiocarbon data, a team of eight international researchers was able to date the remains of 14 men and women found buried at the site all the way back to the 15th and 17th centuries, according to an American Journal of Physical Anthropology study.

Archeological evidence signified that the slaves were brought to the site, located next to an ancient sugar plantation, from Northern Africa and sub-Saharan Africa. Researchers pointed to the fact that the remains had indeed belonged to slaves after finding evidence of “funerary practices that could be related to enslaved people.”

Forensic studies on the corpses revealed that most of the slaves died in their 20s. Evidence of injuries discovered on the remains caused researchers to believe that they were subjugated to “a pattern of labor involving high levels of effort.”

Roughly 12 million slaves were forcefully taken across the Atlantic through the infamous route known as the  “middle passage” after European imperialists colonized Africa between the 16th and 19th centuries. Those individuals were often kidnapped or sold by leaders from their own native tribes throughout Africa and then forced to work on agrarian plantation throughout the newly discovered Americas. Of the approximately slaves who survived the arduous journey across the Atlantic and ended up on the shores of the Canary and Caribbean islands and South America, Brazil received 2.86 million Africans slaves between 1525 and 1866, while roughly 450,000 Africans were sent to the United States. 

Slavery was abolished in the United States after the ratification of the 13th amendment on Dec. 6, 1865.

There are still between 30 to 45 million people enslaved across the world, with India having roughly 18 million, China having 3.4 million and Pakistan having 2.1 million, according to a 2013 report from Freedom Walk, an organization aimed at ending contemporary slavery practices based in Western Australia.