From under water to under glass: The Elmina Wreck exhibit on display

By Steve Likovetz
Staff writer

What was once on the bottom of the ocean is now on display at Destination Archaeology Resource Center in downtown Pensacola.

Greg Cook, assistant professor at the University of West Florida, discovered the wreckage 1.5 miles south of Elmina, Ghana, and research suggests that the ship is called the Groeningen, from the Dutch West India Company. This discovery has unearthed many West African trade goods that would be lost had they not been preserved by the sea.

Greg Cook, associate professor at UWF, showcases his discoveries. (Photo by Steve Likovetz)

“What we have here is the best collection of West African trade goods that’s really ever been found,” Cook said. “Had all these items had safely been delivered to shore, they would have gone through trade networks and we are lucky to find a single example of something like a brass manilla.

Brass manillas from Elmina discovery on display at DARC. (Photo by Steve Likovetz)

Some of the items discovered and on display are brass manillas, ceramics, glass beads and brass basins.

“All of these items would have been used in the African gold and slave trade,” Cook said.

Cook, usually working with Florida history, said that it’s good to showcase something different from around the world.

“We talk about the Atlantic world, it really is interconnected, and the Atlantic Ocean is that highway where all this trade happened,” Cook said, “and even though it is not strictly Florida, it is still somewhat related in terms of that Atlantic interconnect.”

DARC has exhibits on many topics and different shipwrecks that happened around the state of Florida, but not often does wreckage from around the world make its way to Pensacola.

An olive jar on display at the Elmina Wreck exhibit. (Photo by Steve Likovetz)

“Every once in a while, we get items that are not from Florida, but we have permanent displays on wrecks that happened around the state,” Mike Thomin, manager at DARC, said.

DARC has many programs throughout the year. The center will host a more formal forum with Cook and other researchers that were involved in the Elmina project on a date yet to be determined.

Visit destinationarchaeology.org for more information on DARC programs, exhibits and upcoming events.

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