Enslaved, shipwrecked, abandoned: the Crusoes of Tromelin island





Shipwrecked and abandoned: the story of the slave Crusoes


In 1776, 57 years after Daniel Defoe wrote Robinson Crusoe, eight people were rescued from a tiny, treeless island in the Indian Ocean. Seven of them, all women, had survived on the island for 15 years. The eighth, a baby boy, was born there.

The women were the remnants of a group of 60 people who were shipwrecked and then marooned on the scrap of coral and sand in 1761. They were abandoned, and then forgotten, 300 miles from the nearest land, for a simple, brutal reason. They were slaves.

Now, 230 years later, a team of French archaeologists has spent a month searching the wreck of the ship and excavating the flat, shelterless island. They have uncovered some of the secrets of how the castaways clung to life - and developed an elaborate community - on a fragment of near barren land, frequently swept clean by typhoons...


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