(CNN)In a remote river delta on Alabama’s Gulf coast, partially hidden under water and mud, may be the answer to a mystery that has baffled scholars for more than 150 years.If experts’ suspicions are correct, it’s the long-lost wreck of the Clotilda — the last known ship to bring enslaved Africans into the United States. Its precise location has eluded archaeologists and historians since the vessel was burned in 1860 by slavers seeking to hide evidence of their illegal trafficking.
But after the wreck was recently exposed by unusually low tides, AL.com reporter Ben Raines discovered its remains near Mobile and has taken the first step towards verifying its authenticity.
“We did not see anything on the site that would say it’s not the Clotilda,” said Gregory D. Cook, assistant professor of maritime archaeology at the University of West Florida. Raines brought Cook and several other experts to examine the wreck and all agreed that its remains match historical records of the ship.
“We think it’s a very compelling possibility that the wreck could be the Clotilda, but we cannot positively identify it at this point,” Cook told CNN.
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