Explorers unravel mystery of the "Quedagh Merchant" hijacked in 1698

By Emil Sanamyan - The Armenian Reporter

This has been a mystery three centuries in the making. Burned and scuttled off the coast of this former Spanish colony, an Armenian merchant ship captured by British privateer Captain William Kidd has since become the stuff of legend and an elusive prize for treasure hunters.

Since it was accidentally found in December 2007, the researchers involved have called Quedagh Merchant an unprecedented discovery of its kind in recent history. They are now working on ascertaining the vessel's identity and on the creation of a unique museum.

According to British records, Kidd captured the Quedagh Merchant (also known as Cara Merchant) in January 1698 from Armenian traders near the coast of India and then sailed on it to the Caribbean.

In 1701, after a two-year public trial in London, Kidd was hanged to his death on charges of murder and piracy - charges based in main part on testimony from the Armenian vessel's owners.

Seeking to bury the evidence after looting much of its precious cargo, Kidd's associates set the ship on fire and sunk it in 1699.

Subsequent efforts sanctioned by the British Crown to find the vessel and its cargo and compensate the Armenians proved fruitless.

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