"Conclusive information" likely from research on possible slave ship

An important step happens this week to help determine whether a shipwreck in the Mobile-Tensaw Delta is actually the ...

Posted: Mar. 4, 2018 5:14 AM
Updated: Mar. 4, 2018 5:14 AM

An important step happens this week to help determine whether a shipwreck in the Mobile-Tensaw Delta is actually the slave ship Clotilda.

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Archaeologists will begin investigating the shipwreck Friday.

The shipwreck found by AL.com Reporter Ben Raines in January.

The Alabama Historical Commission said the first phase of the archaeological process will start Friday.

And one goal is to determine whether the ship is the Clotilda, the last known ship to bring slaves from Africa to the United States.

Cleon Jones, with the Africatown Community Development Corporation, said, "It's to hash out what's going to take place, and how it's going to take place, so everybody can be on the same page."

Jones said community leaders will hold a news conference Friday morning where preservationists from around the country are expected to discuss their investigation of the shipwreck.

Jones said, "It's a very exciting time for people, especially of my age ,that grew up in Africatown because, more than anything else, we get closure to a saga that many people say was a hoax."

Some specifics of how the investigation will be conducted are expected to be released Friday.

The commission says the research methods to be used will be minimally invasive but, at the same time, have the likelihood of generating what it calls "conclusive information."

Several weeks ago, Raines told a meeting of Africatown residents that items archaeologists find on the ship could confirm whether it's the Clotilda "such as the bell of the ship. There could be manacles in the hold. There could be pens where the captives were housed."

72 year old Carolyn Edwards is interested in hearing the findings.

She said, "I think that's wonderful, you know, and it would add to Africatown. It sure will. It would be an asset and history for our children, you know. More people get involved."

The first phase of the work is expected to be completed Monday and preservationists are expected to announce their findings to the public at a community meeting next Wednesday, March 7.

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