Blackbeard was once the most feared and successful pirate on the sea.
But at the height of his fame, the flagship of his pirate fleet, ‘The Queen Anne’s Revenge’, sunk in mysterious circumstances off the East coast of America.
Team of underwater archaeologists are going below the waves to explore the wreck and find out why the notorious ship was lost. Was it the victim of bad navigation or are there more sinister motives behind the ship’s sinking?
Underwater archaeologists attempt to solve the riddle of Blackbeard’s flagship, ‘The Queen Anne’s Revenge’. Did he sink the ship on purpose?
Sunken treasure lies 25 feet beneath the sea off North Carolina, where archaeologists are probing the wreck of the Queen Anne’s Revenge — the flagship in the dread pirate Blackbeard’s flotilla.
But this treasure won’t sparkle and gleam, and it definitely isn’t locked in a dead man’s chest.
“The project calls for the recovery of all the materials. Everything. All the weapons, all the bits of the ship, all the personal items. Everything. If it’s down there, it’s coming up,” project leader Billy Ray Morris told FoxNews.com.
Morris and a group of 14 marine archaeologists, technicians and restoration experts from the Underwater Archaeology Branch of the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources believe the Queen Anne’s Revenge itself is a treasure trove, a unique repository of history from centuries ago. They plan to salvage the entire remains of the pirate ship by 2014. Cannon by cannon, plank by plank.
Pulled from the ocean’s chemical stew, the artifacts are taken to a lab in Greenville, where it may take as much as a decade to leach out 300 years worth of salt and sea, preparing the ship for the final phase of its life out of the water. More than 280,000 such artifacts have already been recovered;It will ultimately provide a detailed look at 18th century life, information Morris said is hard to come by.
“It’s not like these guys left their memoirs,” he told FoxNews.com. “We’re looking at the stuff that these guys used on a daily basis.”
The Queen Anne’s Revenge ran aground in Beaufort in June 1718, on the western side of the channel. Morris said the ship was most likely intentionally grounded; historical documentation indicates Blackbeard wanted to downsize his flotilla of four ships — and the crew that sailed on them.
“So there would be fewer guys he had to split the goodies with,” Morris said.
A treasure chest is an unlikely find in the wreckage: When you sink your own pirate ship, you pull the loot off it first. But what does exist, 300 years after the ship was abandoned in shallow waters, will be of incalculable value for future scholars, Morris said. There is navigation equipment, weaponry, ceramics, glass wear, personal effects, material from the African slave trade and more. These items often are locked in a concrete like crust of sand, shells and marine life that must be removed during the conservation process.