South Africa

The Slave Wrecks Project

Our Work in South Africa

Team working in South Africa


Saõ José Paquete D’Afrique 

The Saõ José Paquete D’Afrique left Lisbon, Portugal on 27 April in 1794 for Mozambique to take on board a cargo of slaves for the sugar plantations in Maranhão, Brazil. After securing a cargo of 556 enslaved Africans in Mozambique, the ship made its way around the Cape of Good Hope, planning to stop at the Cape to replenish with food and water. On the night of 27 December 1794, the ship struck a rock  in Table Bay, and sank in the violent waters. The Dutch VOC sent help from Cape Town, rescuing about half the crew and enslaved people, who were then sold into slavery again in South Africa.

The Slave Wrecks Project, with partner Iziko Museums of South Africa, have undertaken underwater and terrestrial archaeology, oral history collection, educational programming , and museum exhibitions and programming on the Saõ José. Artifacts from the ship are currently on display at NMAAHC in Washington, D.C. and Iziko Museums in Cape Town, South Africa.