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The E-Sylum: Volume 12, Number 42, October 18, 2009, Article 15

DEAD MAN'S EYE COVERED WITH AN ANTI-SLAVERY TOKEN

Since Halloween is coming up, how about a numismatic story about a scary skeleton and an anti-slavery token? -Editor

Skeleton The skeleton of one of the first sailors to join the movement to abolish slavery has been discovered in a dig at Royal Hospital Haslar in Gosport.

It was found with coins in both eye sockets an old Greek tradition in which the money was used to pay passage for travel to the underworld.

When discovered in a dig earlier this year the coins were so corroded that archaeologists were unable to tell what they said.

But months of painstaking restoration work have revealed one is a medal featuring a kneeling slave engraved with the phrase 'Am I not a man and a brother?' and the other is a halfpenny made in Gosport in 1794.

Archaeologists behind the dig believe the skeleton is that of one of the first abolitionists from Britain and it is one of only three such skeletons ever to have been discovered in the UK.

Dr Andrew Shortland of Cranfield University, director of the excavation, said: 'This is a very rare find and it's unique at Haslar. We knew this was done, but it's very unusual.

'He would have been one of the first abolitionists, and the date on the coin has also given us the first date we've had too.

'We know he must have died after 1794, probably very soon after because these hand-made coins weren't in circulation for very long.

'We've never come across anything like this before. We've done some research and discovered that this is one of only three examples like this in the UK.'

Isn't it a rather large leap to conclude that the person was an abolitionist simply because one of the coins on his eyes was an anti-slavery token? Couldn't it be that those were simply whatever small-value coins were on hand at the time of death? -Editor

To read the complete article, see: Rare skeleton of anti-slavery sailor dug up (www.portsmouth.co.uk/newshome/Rare-skeleton-of-antislavery-sailor.5735717.jp)

Wayne Homren, Editor

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