Archive for the ‘pirates’ tag
Monday, 19 September 2011 • 0 comments
I will not be talking like a pirate on International Talk Like a Pirate Day — yet I have a suggestion for Talk Like a Pirate Evening. Tonight, why not curl up in your treasure den with a cup of rum, your favorite gentleman/gentlewoman volunteer (topless, natch), and a copy of Samuel Smedley, Connecticut Privateer?
I can’t resist the marketing opportunity but I do disagree with the association often made between pirates and privateers. Pirates were bound solely by the covenants they made with each other. American privateers like Smedley were regulated not only by the ship’s articles between the men but also by the rules of Congress. Privateers had to post bond to obtain their commission, and violating the rules of conduct — torture, stripping prisoners of their personal belongings, ransacking the cargo — meant loss of the bond and vulnerability to lawsuits from the aggrieved. While not directly analogous, Revolutionary privateers had more in common with the Minutemen or a posse comitatus than with Blackbeard.
The above painting is A Portrait of Things to Come by Marc Davis, a Disney imagineer. It hangs inside the Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland and depicts Scarlett, the redhead on the auction block whom guests meet later in the ride, subsequent to her going on the account. It’s a pirate’s life for her.
Monday, 5 September 2011 • 0 comments
Analysis of ceramic remains from Barcadares, an 18th-century pirate camp in Belize, showed that more than 65 percent of it was delftware. Numerous pipes and few cups were found, suggesting popular images of buccaneers eating from decorated plates stolen off merchantmen, with a tobacco pipe in one hand and an open bottle in the other, aren’t that far from the truth.
North Carolina has officially confirmed the shipwreck near Beaufort is indeed Blackbeard’s Queen Anne’s Revenge — in part because the local maritime museum hopes to attract private funding to continue excavation and research.
Friday, 17 December 2010 • 0 comments
The Queen Anne’s Revenge Shipwreck Project has posted a summary of their 2010 fall field season:
A total of 122 objects were recovered from the wreck site during the field season. Sixty-five concretions of varying sizes have the potential for containing hundreds of individual artifacts. These concretions will be X-rayed at the conservation lab to help identify what may be contained within. Some artifacts readily apparent on gross external examination include: cannon balls, cask hoops, a pewter plate, and the largest object recovered this season — multiple segments of a deadeye strop with the wood deadeye intact, likely from the port side main mast chain plate.
Drawing of the QAR from the Project’s 1999 management plan.
Friday, 13 August 2010 • 0 comments
For the uninitiated: Fighting Fantasy was a 1980s series of choose-your-own-adventure novels with a simple dice mechanic to simulate combat and other physical challenges. Most were written and illustrated by British authors and artists, with all of the off-kilter and macabre sensibility expected from the sons of Albion. I loved Fighting Fantasy as a kid and nowadays read them to my boys, allowing them to make the decisions as they explore ruins, loot tombs, and slay man and monster alike.
In 2009, publisher Wizard Books began reprinting Fighting Fantasy. Several of the best from my childhood, like City of Thieves and Deathtrap Dungeon, are included in this latest series. Other memorable entries, like Scorpion Swamp — the first FF with a non-linear narrative, allowing you to solve it any which way — haven’t appeared yet. But if I had to pick a favorite, all-time best Fighting Fantasy, it would be the one I know will never be reprinted: Seas of Blood.
Seas of Blood revels in villainy and sheer callousness. The scenario is established in less than two pages: you, a pirate captain, wager with another cutthroat named Abdul the Butcher to see who can accumulate the most swag in fifty days. The winner will be declared king of pirates. And just like that, you’re off, tearing through an imaginary Mediterranean Sea on a binge of rapine and terror.
Did I mention this is a book aimed at children?
Clearly inspired by the Harryhausen/Schneer films of the ’60s and ’70s, Seas of Blood is a mish-mash of Greek triremes and Arabic dhows, of cyclops-haunted isles and giant rocs swooping from the skies, of The Odyssey and A Thousand and One Nights — minus any sense of morality. Like all Fighting Fantasy gamebooks, you have personal statistics, but here you also have group scores to indicate the strength of your crew and soundness of your vessel. Booty is acquired through ship-to-ship combat, yes, but you can also venture ashore alone to explore abandoned temples or with your men to ransack towns or fortresses. A particular sequence has your band of scalawags climb a mountain to attack a Tibetan-like monastery and seize their golden idols.
But wealth in Seas of Blood is not measured in lucre alone. Remember those peaceful monks you despoiled a few pages back? You didn’t actually think you’d just leave them to rebuild their lives, did you? Survivors are thrown into the ship’s hold, to be sold at auction the next time you reach port. But even then it’s not so simple. You soon learn the slave markets in various cities pay different amounts, making prices dependent on the available supply. One city, for example, has been victorious in a war with its neighbor, flooding the market with prisoners and depressing prices. Thus you have to carefully choose where to sell so that you receive the highest bids for your human chattel. Hooray market economics!
Having retained my 1985 edition, I recently played it again with my sons, chortling to myself the whole time. We ended just shy of the amount needed to beat Abdul the Butcher and win the title. A shame. All those people murdered and sold into bondage for mere sport.
Oh well. I wonder what’s for dinner?
Wednesday, 25 November 2009 • 0 comments
Reporters were given a gander at some of the artifacts raised from Blackbeard’s ship:
David Moore, nautical archaeologist with the N.C. Maritime Museum, said all of the artifacts date to the early 18th century, the correct time for the shipwreck, which was in November 1718. Two artifacts have dates inscribed, a bell from 1705 and a cannon from 1713. There are four anchors of the correct vintage at the site, and about a quarter million lead shot have been recovered. He said other ships would not necessarily be so heavily armed, and that this is likely leftover armament from a pirate ship.
The article goes on to speculate that Queen Anne’s Revenge could be to North Carolina tourism what the HL Hunley is to South Carolina tourism. But judging from this year’s field report, that may be some time coming since funding for major recovery is not apparent:
Nearly two feet of sand has been deposited in most places since the lowest point recorded in 2005 and is at levels not seen since the shipwreck’s discovery in 1996. With no funding to continue full recovery operations, this is a good development. When sand covers artifacts it is generally conducive to artifact preservation because it puts them in an anaerobic environment and buffers impacts from currents and critters.
Friday, 6 November 2009 • 0 comments
Back in October, members of The Queen Anne’s Revenge Shipwreck Project raised a grapnel (seen in the foreground to the right) from the wreck of Blackbeard’s ship. I dropped an e-mail to the Project asking if data from an experiment measuring iron corrosion on another anchor influenced the decision to raise the grapnel now.
Wendy Welsh, QAR Conservator, kindly responded:
Actually the data from the in situ monitoring project did not influence our decision to raise the grapnel anchor. The grapnel anchor was loose from the main ballast pile and to avoid further impacts from strong storm currents the decision was made to recover the anchor. A report about our week long field expedition will be posted on our home page soon.
Remember, kids: jacksonkuhl.com — your one-stop source for pirate archaeology news.