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In the 16th century a transatlantic triangular trade route developed. A consequence of the discovery of new lands and the need for a cheap workforce to work these new territories, which made slave-trading a profitable business. Europeans shipped cheap goods, alcohol and arms to Africa, purchased slaves and took them to the island colonies in the Caribbean. Slaves were transported through the Atlantic from Africa in appalling conditions on cargo ships roughly converted to carry as many slaves as possible.


One of those ships, the Adelaide which perished off the Cuban coast in 1714, was discovered and then excavated by Franck Goddio and his team. The French frigate weighing 400 tons left France from the port of Lorient in Brittany to pick up 360 slaves in Guinea. After disembarking the slaves in Leogane, Haiti, fate caught up with the Adelaide. During the night of 10th October, she was thrown onto a reef by a hurricane and sank within an hour. The frigate broke in two parts: its bow was washed ashore with some survivors and its stern sank. Only 45 men were able to escape, with the wreck causing 106 fatalities. Among the survivors was the Captain, M. Champmorot, who was later held responsible for the disaster before a French court - but found not guilty.

Because the Adelaide sank during a hurricane, much of the ship was destroyed. The remains of the stern were scattered due to heavy currents and only heavy artefacts stayed on the spot of the wreck. As well as two anchors, parts of the ship’s rigging, broken ceramics, navigation instruments, and objects of daily life were recovered during the excavations.

Further information on IEASM website