After leaving Bayonne on November 17th 1760, the Utile, a ship belonging to the French East India Company washed up on the Île de Sable (today: Tromelin Island – a 1 km2 desert isle off the coast of Madagascar) on July 31st 1761. The ship was transporting 160 Malagasy slaves that were smuggled out of the country and intended to be sold to Île de France (now Mauritius). The crew returned to Madagascar on a raft, leaving 80 slaves on the island, with the promise to return and rescue them. Only fifteen years later, on November 29th 1776, did the ensign and future knight, Tromelin, return at the helm of the corvette La Dauphine. He rescued the eight surviving slaves: seven women and one eight-month child.
The goal of this exhibition is to recall an important period of maritime history along with the question of slavery and slave-trading in the Indian Ocean, illustrated by this shipwreck and the Malagasy survivors that tried to survive for nearly fifteen years on this tiny, inhospitable island.
The exhibition was developed in collaboration with the GRAN (Group Recherche en Archéologie Navale) and the INRAP (Institut National de Recherche Archéologique Préventive) for the excavations they performed on the island and underwater. Research on this shipwreck and the life of those who were ultimately rescued has been the focus of a multidisciplinary study with the aim of shedding light on the circumstances behind the tragic event. It also documents the living conditions of those who survived the best they could.
Scientific curators: Max Guérout, Groupe de Recherche en Archéologie Navale et Thomas Romon, Institut national de recherches archéologiques préventives
Curator: Pierre Chotard – musée d’histoire de Nantes
This exhibition, a co-production with INRAP, has received financial support from the Ministry of Overseas Affairs
4, place Marc Elder 44 000 — Nantes