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A French ship, carrying an illicit cargo of slaves, foundered near the island of Tromelin, east of Madagascar, in July 1761. At least 20 sailors drowned. So did 70, or more, of the slaves, trapped below deck because the hatches had been closed or nailed down.

After six months on the island, the remaining sailors completed a makeshift craft and escaped. They promised to return for the surviving slaves, but did not.

The castaways never gave up hope. They kept the same fire going for 15 years, with driftwood and wood from the wreck. They built houses from blocks of coral and impacted sand (the remains of which have been uncovered by the archaeologists). They built a communal oven. They survived on a diet of turtles, seabirds and shellfish.

Max Guérout, a marine archaeologist and former French naval officer, who led the expedition, said: "These were not people who were overwhelmed by their fate. They were people who worked together successfully in an orderly way."

"We have found evidence of where they lived and what they ate. We have found copper cooking utensils, repaired, over and over again, which must originally have come from the wreck of the ship."

"It is a very human story, a story of the ingenuity and instinct for survival of people who were abandoned because they were regarded by some of their fellow human beings as less than human."

Shipwrecked and abandoned: the story of the slave Crusoes - Africa - World - The Independent
 

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Interesting story. For myself, I think I would have rather been living on a deserted island and free, than anywhere else as a slave.
 

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Interesting story. For myself, I think I would have rather been living on a deserted island and free, than anywhere else as a slave.
Good point, provided that you actually live, i.e. manage to survive there. A lot of them did not make it. Still, in the end, the survivors wanted to leave that place. Perhaps the memories of what happened there had a role in it. And it was not exactly a good place to live.
 
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