Smuggling, Iron and Sugar: Millersville University Students in Atlantic Project with Bermuda Maritime Museum
MILLERSVILLE, Pa., Nov. 27 /PRNewswire/ -- History and archeology students from Millersville University of Pennsylvania plan to spend next summer at the Bermuda Maritime Museum to research smuggling, iron and sugar during the 18th century. As part of "The Atlantic World Project" they will study a link between the archeological excavations by Millersville students of Dr. Timothy Trussell at the Elizabeth Furnace Plantation in Lancaster County, Pa., and the archiving of the Manila shipwreck off Bermuda by Millersville history students of Dr. Clarence Maxwell with the Bermuda Maritime Museum. "Archeologists and historians don't normally work together," Dr. Trussell said, "but we found we had a mystery, "What were Elizabeth Furnace stove plates doing in a shipwreck off Bermuda?'" What the project has discovered so far, is that iron was a commodity needed by every sugar plantation for refining sugar - and the islands couldn't produce iron themselves. Finished ironwork from Pennsylvania went west and south from Bermuda for sugar production and bar iron would go east to be traded as currency in Africa and used to buy slaves. The slaves were then traded where demand was greatest: French or English sugar islands, South Carolina, Virginia, etc. Bermudians were able to act as middlemen, obtaining illegal French sugar which could then be sold in Philadelphia at great profit. "We have years more of research and a complex web of smuggling to untangle," Dr. Trussell said. "Philadelphia traders and the aristocrats of that time were very much involved. In fact, the daughter of a prominent Philly merchant lived in Bermuda and is buried there." To help with the research, Millersville University now has a standing cooperative agreement with the Bermuda Maritime Museum. The director of the museum, Dr. Edward C. Harris, will have Millersville's archaeology program function as the "terrestrial arm" of the museum's research program. The museum, in return, will provide housing for students, equipment and the use of their laboratory. The next step is to raise funds to ensure students will be able to go to Bermuda next summer for testing, excavation, research and writing projects. "Students will be involved in every aspect of documentary and archaeological research," said Trussell. "We cannot do this without them."
SOURCE Millersville University
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