Researchers are one step closer to unraveling some of the mysteries of the Alabama shipwreck Clotilda, the last known vessel to bring enslaved people from Africa to the United States. Keep reading to learn about the recent discoveries.
The Clotilda was once was a ship that illegally brought African captives into the US around 1860.
It was the last ship known to transport African captives to the America for enslavement, departing Mobile decades after the outlaw of international slave trade.
To illegal voyager was later burned and abandoned. The captives, after emancipation, formed Africatown—a small town north of Mobile where they created their own community. Though rumors swirled about the Clotilda’s existence for years, researchers officially confirmed the ship’s location in 2019.
So…what’s happening now?
A team of archaeological divers led by the Alabama Historical Commission (AHC) recently completed ten days of exploring the sunken ship in the Mobile River. The work will help determine what can be done with the wreckage in the future, a decision that descendants of the African captives will play an important role in.
The workers discovered some timbers from the ship for testing and documentation, taking samples of their findings in hopes of discovering traces of DNA from the captives transported to Mobile in 1860.
According to officials, the shipwreck is in surprisingly good shape after being encased for decades in mud that may hold traces of DNA from captives. The Clotilda is described as the most intact slave ship ever found.
What this means
According to the AHC, more will be learned as the analysis stage of the project progresses. The Commission will later provide the information needed to make an informed, responsible decision regarding the best possible path towards protection, preservation and interpretation of the Clotilda wreck site.
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