Photo: Columbus's Failing Mining Colony Pilfered Its Supplies, Study Says



A major 1990s excavation (seen here) of La Isabela—the mining settlement established by Christopher Columbus on his second trip to the New World—found slag that showed the colony was smelting ore.

Until now archaeologists believed that the source of the slag was local ore, which proved to be deficient of gold and silver. But a new study suggests that the slag was the result of a desperate attempt by the colonists, beset by hunger, disease, hurricanes, mutiny, and conflicts with the natives, to smelt their own supplies.

Photograph by J.M. Cruxent, Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida


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