Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Uncovering Blackbeard's Treasure...historical riches from "Queen Anne's Revenge"

(Part 2)

Model of Queen Anne's Revenge
In 1718, Captain Edward Teach AKA Blackbeard the Pirate, ran his flagship, Queen Anne's Revenge, aground near Beaufort, North Carolina. The remains of the 200 ton ship rested undisturbed beneath twenty-five feet of water until its discovery in 1996. Since then, a treasure trove providing tens of thousands of 18th century sea-going artifacts has been brought to the surface. Many exciting discoveries still remain beneath the sea promising even more insight into nautical life during the Golden Age of Piracy. A special conservation and restoration lab has been set up on the campus of East Carolina University in Greenville for the sole purpose of caring for these historical treasures. Coincidentally, students and teams of the university are called the
Artifacts still encased in concretions

A traveling exhibit touring the state of North Carolina showcasing many of the artifacts enables residents and visitors alike the opportunity to see, firsthand, items actually handled by the infamous pirate captain and his crew. It's one thing to examine relics uncovered by archaeologists which were used by ancient, unknown people but it's quite another to see items last handled by one of  the most well known characters who ever lived.

My husband and I visited the exhibit while it was housed in the North Carolina History Center in New Bern.
Within the glass display cases we saw items ranging from pewter plates on which they ate their meals, to bits of clay pipes in which they smoked their tobacco, to a tantalizing scattering of gold grains and flakes. There were canon balls, grenades, canon long shot, and shackles on display, reminders of the violent nature of life aboard a pirate ship. Even small, personal items such as brass belt buckles, cuff links, and buttons have been rescued from the deep. The exhibit also contained several large display signs with information and illustrations about this turbulent time in American history and a very informative video ran on a continuous loop. The Beaufort branch of the North Carolina Museum of Maritime History houses a permanent collection of many other artifacts from the ship as well as items salvaged from other ship wrecks.

Some of the most interesting items brought to light are ones that were of medical or hygienic use and give us a real picture of day to day life aboard an early 18th century ship.
One of the more disturbing artifacts is a pewter urethral syringe with a curved funnel tip, still containing vestiges of mercury, used to treat venereal disease. Ouch! Another item was known as a seat of ease: a rolled piece of funnel shaped metal used as a waste tube and fitted in the far stern of the ship for the convenience of the officers.

Photographs of 95 of the artifacts can be seen on the Queen Anne's Revenge website

All photographs on today's blog post were taken either by my husband or myself during our visit to the exhibit earlier this month.
Have a good week, dear Reader. Thanks for stopping by...Y'all come back now!


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