RE: [SACC-L] Pirate Archaeology
- For those interested in the archaeology of piracy, there is a pretty good and recently edited volume called X MARKS THE SPOT: THE ARCHAEOLOGY OF PIRACY (2006, U of Florida, edited by L Babits, J. Howard, and M Brenckle).
Basically....its pretty darn difficult to identify pirates and pirate ships. The ships and artifacts are rarely clear indicators.
Pirate clothing and personal artifacts were usually no different than that of other sailors; and any modifications to the ship would likely have been in the upper part which rarely survive. One of the best indicators is weapons. Pirate ships are generally thought more likely to contain a wider variety of weapons than non-pirate ships.
The authors of one of the articles in X MARKS THE SPOT('Pirate Imagery', by Babits, Howard, and Brenkle) write:
"Weaponry may provide clues because it is large, resistant to decay, and diagnostic for time and place. Pirate weaponry might include weapons of several nationalities and sizes. In contrast, an armed merchantman, privateer, or man-o-war would have adequate shot for a set of standardized guns. Pirates might be presumed to have a variety of weapons, captured as they upgraded their vessel and personal weapons. They may have shifted weaponry form one vessel to another to create a more powerful armament. A mix of older pieces as well as up-to-date cannon might be found."
>>> "Popplestone, Ann" <ann.popplestone@...> 09/17/08 5:29 PM >>>I've done some underwater archaeology and I have to say that I'm not
100% sure how a pirate wreck would be distinguished from any other.
Naval vessels routinely stole one another's cannons etc so a variety of
armaments doesn't necessarily mean anything. Lots of Spanish wrecks
have cannon with Tudor Roses imprinted on them, for instance.
A wide variety of artifacts and different types of coins might indicate
piracy, or just mean a ship with a variety of trading partners. Flags,
ships' manifests, and uniforms vs civies are perishable and would not be
Of course, the definition of piracy covers a fairly wide range of
situations. Freelance ships with no (official) government backing them
were sometimes called pirates. Successful mutineers were considered
The usual image of sea-going independent thieves only covers some
Trivia for the day: The only episode of piracy on the Great Lakes
involved some Confederate officers in civies taking control of a
Canadian ferry with the intent of springing POWs held at a place called
Cedar Point on the American side of Lake Erie. The whole thing was
botched and the Confederates were caught and hung as pirates since they
were not in uniform.
I have a feeling that the "arrr" image may have something to do with
losing their teeth to scurvy. <gr>
Actually some of the grammar and syntax of this lower-class English
dialect suggests an overlapping origin with what we now call Ebonics.
"There be" etc. Is it possible that the slaves learned some of their
English from the sailors who fed and guarded them during the Middle
Passage? Or, more likely, that the same sort of folks that became
common seamen also became slave dealers and overseers?
Or am I sailing off in the wrong direction?
Ann Popplestone AAB, BA, MA
CCC Metro TLC
From: SACC-L@yahoogroups.com [mailto:SACC-L@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf
Of Bob Muckle
Sent: Wednesday, September 17, 2008 12:21 PM
Subject: [SACC-L] Pirate day
Just a reminder.....this Friday (Sept 19th) is International Talk Like a
Pirate Day. If you are interested in silly things like
Unfortunately, falling on a Friday this year, it isn't likely that most
of us are teaching a relevant class, but....I, for one, will be spending
a few minutes on reconstructing pirate culture from material remains
during my Thursday archaeology class.
I only wish I was teaching linguistics, it would be such a great
opportunity to use words such as 'scalawag.'
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