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Henrietta Marie

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Tool of the Trade
Photograph by Ira Block

Symbols of slavery’s barbarity, iron shackles told archaeologists for certain what type of ship had wrecked in 1700 at New Ground Reef off the Florida Keys. More than 80 of these restraints, two of them padded with twine (above), were recovered from Henrietta Marie’s remains. The twine was used to prevent chafing, says marine archaeologist David Moore. “But it was an economic thing, not a humane one. Fewer scars on the slaves meant higher value.” Whether it was commonplace to wrap the iron loops remains a mystery. “I’ve never seen it documented in the historical records,” he says. 

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