Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Burden of Proof Surrounding Identification of Pirate Ship Seen as 'Buzzkill'

A recent article by the Los Angeles Times journalist David Zucchino describes the scrutiny applied by North Carolina's top marine archaeologists to the identity of an 18th Century shipwreck as a 'downer', a 'buzzkill' and a bit of 'unpleasantness'. The ship in question is believed to be the Queen Anne's Revenge, the flagship of the notorious pirate Blackbeard, portrayed in the latest edition of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.

Discovered by treasure hunters in 1996, the ships identity, and the subsequent value of the thousands of artifacts that have been salvaged - including a diamond encrusted wine glass - have been questioned, and rightly so, by the professional archaeological community. An article to be published next spring in the journal Historical Archaeology will discuss the recent findings, which its authors now feel point to the positive identification of Blackbeard's ship.

Despite what looks like an affirmation of the suspected identity of the vessel, the disregard for the process of identification of the vessel is dangerous. Just as we've seen with the lead codices, proclaiming the identity or source of any supposed historical object can bring its own form of 'unpleasantness'. Getting it right matters, regardless of the capacity crowds, or perhaps because of them. Incredible claims do require incredible proof, and it's reassuring to see proper scrutiny is being applied to this topic, in spite of pressure to sensationalize and a fanning of the flames by the media.

Click here for the original article

No comments:

Post a Comment