Off the town of Inhambane in Mozambique, Jonathan Sharfman is hunting for a new kind of treasure that doesn’t gleam like gold, but promises to shed light on a dark and forgotten history. Somewhere not far from the old town lies an 18th-century slave ship that is proving to be extremely difficult to find. What is known is that the vessel struck a sandbar after slaves took over the ship but, besides that, clues pointing to its exact location are scant. The landmarks mentioned in 200-year-old documents marking the site of the wreck have changed, and their units of distance can’t be trusted. "We don’t even know what miles they are talking about — they could be French, they could be Portuguese," says Sharfman, a marine archaeologist. "Archival documents are difficult to interpret, and geographical names change." Mozambique has become the next frontier in the search for slave shipwrecks. Archaeologists and historians are hoping that what they find on the seabed will fill in the gaps about...

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