Sir Henry Morgan.
Credit: United States Navy.
What may be the first artifacts from legendary pirate Henry Morgan's shipwrecked vessels near Panama were recently discovered.
No, not Captain Morgan's rum, which actually was named after the notorious Welshman.
Morgan is a legend in Panama. He's commonly thought of as a pirate, but he was what's called a privateer a legal pirate. He was paid by the English crown to defend its Caribbean colonies.
The cannons, if truly Morgan's, would be the first artifacts of his that have been found near Panama.
As the story goes, Morgan, along with three ships carrying 470 men, set out to take over a fort guarding the entrance to Panama City. Morgan was sailing on the Satisfaction, his flagship, but all four ships crashed on Lajas Reef in shallow water . Despite losing their ships, Morgan's men still were able to paddle ashore and capture the fort.
The ships were abandoned, and treasure hunters have picked through the reef over the years. The cannons were found covered by layers of sedimentary rock in the shallow water. At least two other guns are buried nearby, as well as an anchor, ceramics and bottles. Metal detectors indicated that more artifacts may be buried deeper.
The archaeologists wanted to leave the cannons underwater, but fresh evidence of treasure hunters along the reef forced them to bring the cannons ashore.