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Primeros Ingenios Coloniales Azucareros de América

Date of Submission: 05/02/2018
Criteria: (ii)(iv)
Category: Cultural
Submitted by:
Permanent Delegation of the Dominican Republic to UNESCO
State, Province or Region:
Provincia San Cristóbal (Ingenios Diego Caballero y Boca de Nigua), provincia Santo Domingo (Ingenios Engombe y Palavé)
Ref.: 6291

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Property names are listed in the language in which they have been submitted by the State Party


Serial properties integrated by four archaeological sites, vestiges of the first colonial sugar mills in America, built by Europeans on the island of Hispaniola at the beginning of the 16th century with the objective to produce sugar and its derivatives. These cultural sites allow us to understand the historical, social, economic, cultural and environmental processes of the sugar manufacture process that took place in the Caribbean for many centuries. In these sites it is possible to appreciate the two sugar mills´s typologies, the trapiche and the hydraulic. The complexes were located in the proximity of rivers and forests to facilitate the supply of water and wood used as energy sources; it also permitted the fluvial transport of the products from the factories to the adjacent ports.

Ingenio de Boca de Nigua (N18 22 21.30 E70 03 8.625): Horses-moved trapiche built in the sixteenth century and rebuilt in the eighteenth century. The mill consist in a group of buildings constructed with brick and stone masonry, among these structures there is boiler house and a two-story building. The ground floor has a vaulting web ceiling and was used for the installation of ovens; while the second floor served for the installation of cauldrons or pails in a continuous arrangement. The mill, with a polygonal plan, is reinforced on each side by masonry buttresses covered with bricks, the mill´s trapiche used to squeezed the canes was installed in it center. In its vicinity, a stone ramp facilitated the transportation of the raw materials and the finished products. The warehouses, drying rooms and warehouses were organized around a central patio. The oven is located close to that set.

Boca de Nigua is the site where the second largest slave rebellion of the Spanish colony of Santo Domingo happened in 1796.

Ingenio de Diego Caballero (N18 21 58.85 E70 03 38.40): Hydraulic mill built in the sixteenth century. This sugar complex is composed by a set of buildings constructed with brick and stone masonry, among these, there is a boiler house with five furnaces for the same number of pans arranged in a continuous way. Other parts are the purge house, the mill (connected to the ditch that led the water from the Nigua River), and a warehouse for to deposit the ovens and the mill´s production.

In 1535 this sugar mill was the place of the first and greater organized goats’ breeding, furthermore that was the land of the first cultivation of vineyards cultivation of the Island started.

Engine of Engombe (N18 26 54.65 E70 00 02.75) : Horses-moved trapiche of the 16th In its beginning the production started with a hydraulic system. The site name has an African origin and comes from the Bantu word "ngombé" which means "cattle"or "cow". The set is composed for various buildings made out of stone: a two stories owner´s house; a chapel with a single ship, a two gable roof, an apse covered by dome of half orange in bricks and the bell tower. Other components of the complex are a polygonal mill, a boiler house and the warehouse.

Ingenio de Palavé (N18 28 49.62 E70 02 5.10): Two-story brick masonry house built in the 17th century on a land that belonged to San José cacao farm. The façade is composed by a central portico with three arches and four columns (two exempt columns and two attached) crowned by bulrush and pinnacles. From the ground floor a stair afford independent access to the bedroom side located upstairs.

Justification of Outstanding Universal Value

The serial property First Colonial Sugar Mills in America incorporate the preserved physical spaces and the original materials that characterizes the earliest sugar industry's infrastructures required for the production of sugar and their derivatives, built in America in the 16th century, according to historical archaeological and architectural evidences that have been researched.

Moved by the river's water and animal's power, the first sugar mills of La Española are representative examples of the use of natural resources, architecture, engineering and urbanism in relation with its emplacement. Also because of the transmission of building, operation and technology knowledge at the beginning of an American industrial heritage. For its links with the history of slavery in the Caribbean region those mills are illustrative cases of the Slave Route's Memory Sites.

During the sixteenth century the island of La Española was the main producer of the American sugar trade in the Caribbean and also the first colony where the agriculture of sugarcane and sugar production was introduced and disseminated to the rest of America. With the cultivation of sugarcane in La Española, the history of the commerce-oriented agronomy in the Caribbean began.

Together, these archaeological sites represent the physical material spaces and the immaterial memory as a benchmark of the historical processes and events that took place in the first colonial sugar mills of America, particularly as memory sites for slavery.

Criterion (ii): The sugar mills of the sixteenth century were the most advanced factories of that period of time because of the diverse activities involved in the agricultural and industrial production of the sugar and its related goods. Based on a natives and African people's exploitation system, the sites evidences the transmission of Asian and European knowledge, technology and material culture in the genesis of America´s industrial heritage since it required the experience of skilled workers for its installation and operation. Therefore, the first sugar industries of the New World have an exceptional value for Humanity for both, the social processes and the economic and technological processes involved in the sugar production´s practice.

Criterion (iv): Through their buildings, these places illustrate a production model based on the slavery system stablished from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries, as well as the integration of natives and African workforce as a fundamental element of production of sugar and derivatives in an industrial scale, and the importation of European technology and materials. The production model was founded over the exploitation of the environment since it was installed in strategical geographical areas that allowed them to take advantage of the natural resources.

Statements of authenticity and/or integrity

The authenticity of these four sites is supported by the existence of historical and archaeological documentation that records their existence from the sixteenth century to nowadays. This authenticity can be verified by the location, typologies, physical spaces, constructive materials, forms and designs of each listed property.

These sites owns the necessary physical attributes to represent and transmit the history of social, economic, cultural and environmental processes that engendered the first productive typologies of the sugar industry in America. Developed from the sixteenth century, they remained operative until the eighteenth century. In the last century a few of the building were intervened, such works consisted in a labor of structural consolidation and were supported by scientific researches; following the international standards and criteria for restoration. Most of the structures have not been intervened.

Comparison with other similar properties

Beside the remains of the hydraulic typologies sugar mills of the sixteenth century in Dominican Republic, not other similar factory has been recovered in the Caribbean zone. In the region the predominate sugar mills during the XVII and XVIII centuries were move by animals and wind forces, even so, the mills of La Española never used windmills as many other Caribbean island did.

Unlike the latter, the installation of the colonial sugar mills of La Española required a land distribution and organization in order to take advantage of the available resources for the industrial, agricultural and livestock production.