Sunday, November 30, 2008

Slave Ship Wreck Found-

The only known slaving vessel shipwreck was found near Turks and Caicos, in only 9 feet of water.

The Trouvadore sank in 1841--long after transporting slaves had been outlawed. The story of how the discoverers (Ships of Discovery out of Corpus Christi, Texas) followed a few sparse clues in an 1878 letter about "African dolls" (which turned out to be not African) to eventually locate the slave ship on the coast of East Caicos, is absolutely fascinating.

192 slaves were rescued; one female slave was shot dead by the crew. Those saved worked in salt ponds to pay for their rescue; their descendants may "make up a significant proportion of the 30,000 residents of the island country," according the Los Angeles Times story of Nov. 29, 2008.

This picture, btw, is from the NOAA Ocean Explorer website (NOAA--National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) and shows the keel from the starboard side, with a studded sheet of copper in the foreground.

But wait! There's More!

The same team from Ships of Discovery also located US ship Chippewa, a War of 1812 veteran that was then used to find and stop slavers. The Chippewa sank in 1816 in the same area.

Here's the Los Angeles Times story. Times of the Islands, a Turks and Caicos magazine, published an in-depth piece in 2007. Better still, here is a website devoted to the shipwreck, which was originally found in 2004. There's also a pdf available, put together with several articles from the African Diaspora Archaeology Network. Lastly, here's another site that focuses on the PBS documentary that was done a couple of years ago about finding the Trouvadore.

No comments: