Shipwreck off North Carolina offers clues about Blackbeard the pirate

From Voice of America

Jim TEDDER: Beaufort, North Carolina, is a small town in the southeastern United States. Many people who live in this part of the country are fishermen. They make their living in the nearby Atlantic Ocean.

Three hundred years ago, Beaufort was the home of Edward Thatch, who also made his living on the water. But he was not a fisherman. He was feared by many and known as Blackbeard the Pirate.

One of Blackbeard’s ships, Queen Anne’s Revenge, was discovered under seven meters of water near Beaufort fifteen years ago. Since then, scientists have been studying the ship and bringing to the surface many of the artifacts -- things made by hand -- that they have found.

An exhibit of those objects opened last month at the North Carolina Maritime Museum in Beaufort. David Moore is the museum’s Nautical Archeologist.

David Moore: “One of the first items that came up from the site back in nineteen ninety-six, when it was first discovered, was a bell. Part of the inscription on the bell was the date … seventeen-oh-five. And so when you can find an artifact that very comfortably dates the site to the appropriate period, that’s exciting for an archeologist.”

Christopher CRUISE: David Moore believes that Blackbeard once had three or four hundred men and four ships under his command. They sailed up and down the Atlantic Coast and stole anything of value from other ships.

David MOORE: “Most of what these guys were grabbing was food, alcoholic beverages, spare cannons, sails, anchors -- anything that they needed to get by on a day to day basis.

Christopher CRUISE: But what about the stories of pirate treasure…silver and gold and jewels? How much of that has been found?

David MOORE: “Very small, tiny bits of gold that would have been picked up in streams in West Africa, and panned, and collected. And what we have on Queen Anne’s Revenge is probably somewhere around fifteen grams, five thousand little tiny bits of gold.”

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