OT news story Blackbeard's Ship to Be Fully Excavated
- Blackbeard's Ship to Be Fully Excavated
By STEVE HARTSOE
RALEIGH, N.C. (March 3) - A shipwreck off the North Carolina coast believed
to be that of notorious pirate Blackbeard could be fully excavated in three
years, officials working on the project said.
"That's really our target," Steve Claggett, the state archaeologist, said
Friday while discussing 10 years of research that has been conducted since the
shipwreck was found just off Atlantic Beach.
The ship ran aground in 1718, and some researchers believe it was a French
slave ship Blackbeard captured in 1717 and renamed Queen Anne's Revenge.
Several officials said historical data and coral-covered artifacts recovered
from the site - including 25 cannons, which experts said was an uncommonly
large number to find on a ship in the region in the early 18th century -
remove any doubt the wreckage belonged to Blackbeard.
Three university professors, including two from East Carolina University,
have challenged the findings. But officials working on the excavation said
Friday that the more they find, the stronger their case becomes.
"Historians have really looked at it thoroughly and don't feel that there's
any possibility anything else is in there that was not recorded," said Mark
Wilde-Ramsing, director of the Queen Anne's Revenge Project. "And the
artifacts continue to support it."
Wilde-Ramsing said a coin weight recovered last fall bearing a likeness of
Britain's Queen Anne and a King George cup, both dated before the shipwreck,
further bolster their position.
So far, about 15 percent of the shipwreck has been recovered including
jewelry, dishes and thousands of other artifacts. The items are being preserved
and studied at a lab at East Carolina University, and eventually more will
become available for the public to view, Claggett said.
Nearly 2 million people have viewed shipwreck artifacts since 1998,
including at a permanent exhibit at the North Carolina Maritime Museum in Beaufort
and at a maritime museum in Paris, project officials said.
Researchers shared some of their findings Friday at the North Carolina
Museum of History. They said studying the artifacts will provide insight into the
era's naval technology, slave trade and pirate life.
Blackbeard, whose real name was widely believed to be Edward Teach or Edward
Thatch, settled in Bath and received a governor's pardon. Some experts
believe he grew bored with land life and returned to piracy.
He was killed by volunteers from the Royal Navy in November 1718 - five
months after the ship thought to be Queen Anne's Revenge sank.
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