Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences

, Volume 9, Issue 3, pp 419–430 | Cite as

Colonial iron in context: the Trianon slave shackle from Mauritius

  • Krish Seetah
  • Thomas Birch
  • Diego Calaon
  • Saša Čaval
Original Paper


In 2009, part of a ‘slave shackle’ was recovered from archaeological investigations at Trianon, an indentured labourer site on Mauritius dated from the beginning of the nineteenth century. This paper presents the results of a metallurgical assessment of the artefact, thought to represent colonial ironwork, a category that has hitherto remained understudied. The results are incorporated into the wider archaeological and historical evidence from Trianon, highlighting the value of studying colonial ironwork in context.


Colonial Shackle Iron Indentured labour Slavery 



Funding for this research has been provided by and gratefully received from the Aapravasi Ghat Trust Fund (AGTF), The British Academy, The British Council, The McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research and the University of Central Lancashire (UK). The authors gratefully acknowledge the support of Dr. Vijaya Teelock, Ms. Corinne Forrest, Mr. Renganaden Andiapen and Mr. Satyendra Peerthum from the AGTF; Dr. Anwar Janoo and students from the University of Mauritius; and to Rose Ferraby, Branko Mušič, Igor Medarič and Matjaž Mori for their geophysical reconnaisance. The work was conducted with the help of technician John Still at the University of Aberdeen. The authors also wish to thank the two anonymous reviewers for their constructive feedback, which has been incorporated into the final version of this article.

Author contributions

The analysis and metallographic study of the Trianon shackle were conducted by Thomas Birch, who drafted the manuscript jointly with Krish Seetah. Diego Calaon and Saša Čaval led the fieldwork and excavations at Trianon as part of the MACH project, led by Krish Seetah, and provided commentary and illustrations for the article.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Krish Seetah
    • 1
  • Thomas Birch
    • 2
  • Diego Calaon
    • 1
    • 3
  • Saša Čaval
    • 1
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyStanford UniversityStanfordUSA
  2. 2.Instittut für Archäologische Wissenschaften, Abt. IIGoethe-Universität Frankfurt am MainFrankfurt am MainGermany
  3. 3.Dipartimento di Scienze Amientali, Informatica e Statistica (DAIS)Università Ca’ Foscari VeneziaVeneziaItaly
  4. 4.Slovenian Academy of Sciences and ArtsInstitute of Anthropological and Spatial Studies, Scientific Research CentreLjubljanaSlovenia

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