Tiny paper fragments found aboard the wreckage of Blackbeard’s ship have given researchers a glimpse of what pirates liked to read. Josh King has the story (@abridgetoland).
Three-hundred-year-old scraps of paper that somehow survived centuries aboard the wreck of Blackbeard’s flagship are offering new insight into what pirates read during their down time, according to conservationists at the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.
As George Dvorsky at Gizmodo reports, researchers found 16 tiny scraps of paper embedded in sludge pulled from a cannon recovered from the wreck of the Queen Anne’s Revenge, Blackbeard’s flagship vessel re-discovered in Beaufort Inlet in 1996.
Dvorsky notes that researchers who primarily work on marine artifacts rarely if ever encounter paper, so they contacted conservators to find out what to do next. They were told to dry the paper over the next 48 hours or it wouldn’t survive.
According to a press release, the largest scrap from the exciting find is only about the size of a quarter. That made identifying the literature somewhat of a challenge. However, Megan Gannon at LiveScience writes that the team was successful in transcribing the words “South of San,” ”(f)athom” and “Hilo,” which they believed referred to the name of a city in Peru. For a year, the researchers scoured the library, looking for books that referenced Hilo. Finally, in August, Kimberly Kenyon found a match in the book A Voyage to the South Sea, and Round the World, Perform’d in the Years 1708, 1709, 1710 and 1711 by Captain Edward Cooke. “Everyone crowded into my office and we started matching all the fragments we had,” Kenyon says in an interview with Gannon.