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Bill Donato

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  • Rick Osmon
    Hello Loopers! In this issue: This Week s Show: Bill Donato on recent Bimini finds pointing to ancient oceanic trade Op/Ed: Smugglers, Pirates, and Thieves
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 19, 2007
      Hello Loopers!
      In this issue:
      Op/Ed: Smugglers, Pirates, and Thieves
      Events AKHA has no meetings in December, but will resume in January.
      Please send event schedules for your organizations and I will publish them.
      Last week's show:  Diffusion related discussion
      This Week's Show: 
      Copper, gold, cocaine, tobacco, maize, gourds, chilli peppers,  pineapples, and furs are among the things - out of place goods - traded across oceans in times we used to think it couldn't happen. Bill describes evidence that ancient trade ships passed through Bimini.
      Please tune in .  Please call in. Bill can address your questions regarding the "Bimini Road " and a myriad of other subjects this Thursday at 9 Eastern.
      Op/EdSmugglers, Pirates, and Thieves
      Captain Kidd's ship has been located in "pristine" condition off the Dominican coast. Kidd was a privateer to his Whig sponsors, but a pirate in the eyes of the Tory opposition. Without recounting all his adventures and misadventures, he was hanged in London in 1701. Some three hundred years later, evidence was found as "mis-filed papers" that would have exonerated Kidd of the piracy charges. It turns out, William Kidd was hanged - allowed to hang - in order to preserve the political power of his sponsors.
      Kidd operated in very distant seas from his New York home port.  His adventures took him to across the Pacific to Japan, the Indian Ocean, the Red Sea, Madagascar, the Caribbean,  and finally back to New York. He went overland to Boston where he was arrested. His final voyage, to London,  was in chains. All these voyages occurred a century before there was such a thing as a "ship's chronometer", and yet Kidd apparently knew precisely where he was at all times.
      Kidd, like all privateers of the era, operated as a sort of "officially sanctioned pirate". There is a long history of such actions, going all the way back to ancient times. The Ptolemaic era had its equivalents. So did Carthage. And, of course, the Norse had the Vikings. When the leaders of one country didn't have sufficient naval power to control the seas or trade of another country, they would hire privateers to disrupt the maritime trade or naval powers of their enemies. When peace was achieved, whether through diplomacy or through conquest, the privateers were suddenly both unemployed and unemployable. Some turned or returned to true piracy. Some smuggled high value or illegal goods. Some were caught and executed. Others simply disappeared from history.
      There is evidence that extensive maritime trade networks existed during Roman times, but little evidence that they were sponsored by Rome. Officially, any and all foreign trade had to have a Roman stamp of approval (literally, an official stamp on wax seal). Pirates, smugglers, and thieves would conduct their business without any such official oversight. Nor would they leave any records historians might use to reconstruct their activities. And yet the trade goods, mostly ceramics, show up in diverse places that that don't logically attest to overland trade.
      The cannon found with Kidd's prize, the Quedagh Merchant, are the evidence used to identify the ship. They are bronze, one of the most enduring metals (next to gold) when submerged in seawater. Almost no wood remains after only three hundred years. The identification is supported through records of that age. What records exist of Roman or Phoenician trade or piracy? Or of smuggling? Likely, the only records would be of executions once the pirates or smugglers were caught and those records wouldn't detail the goods or routes as did Kidd's trial. The Torys used all they knew to try and waylay the Whigs using Kidd as the bait. But Kidd was naively loyal to his sponsors and never provided all the details. Did certain Roman senators and aristocrats conceal evidence the way Kidd's Whig sponsors did?
      It is not at all surprising to me that no records exist of ancient trans-oceanic voyages (other than that of Pytheus). Between the secrecy required for both official trade (trade secrets) and clandestine naval or maritime voyages, and the penalties for defying officialdom, no one would have wanted to record their adventures.
      Written documents existed and would have exonerated Kidd of piracy, but the evidence was hidden. Lack of written history is not evidence of lack of history
      Other news: 

      Winter solstice to be webcast from Newgrange - Newgrange (co. Meath, Ireland) is best known for the illumination of its passage and chamber by the winter solstice sun. Above the entrance to the passage at Newgrange there is... Stonehenge: so what now? As plans for the Stonehenge tunnel scheme lay in tatters this week, Salisbury MP Robert Key called on government ministers to set up a Stakeholder Task Force to piece together... Prehistoric toolkit unearthed in Jordan Before the end of the last ice age, a hunter-gatherer left a bag of tools near the wall of a roundhouse residence, where archaeologists have now found the collection 14,000... Archaeologists find speared skeleton in Australia A new report led by an archaeologist on the first evidence of death by spearing in Australia has been published in the journal Antiquity. The paper outlines the collaborative detective... 15,000-year-old flint spear tip found in Ohio


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