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Archaeology Magazine

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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The Pirate Book Club

May/June 2018

Trenches North Carolina Paper Fragments Sludge Block

 

It is extremely rare to find paper in a shipwreck, but a number of small scraps were retrieved from the wreckage of Queen Anne’s Revenge, the pirate Blackbeard’s flagship, which ran aground off the North Carolina coast in 1718. Now, based on words printed on the fragments, researchers have determined that they came from a 1712 narrative of a round-the-world voyage. It’s unclear whether Blackbeard or his men actually read Captain Edward Cooke’s A Voyage to the South Sea, and Round the World, Perform’d in the Years 1708, 1709, 1710 and 1711 between bouts of plundering merchant ships on the way from Africa to the Caribbean. After all, the paper was found amid sludge removed from the chamber of a breech-loading cannon. But Queen Anne’s Revenge project conservator Kimberly Kenyon notes that tales of South Sea voyages were wildly popular with the reading public at the time—and may well have been among pirates, too.

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