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Photos: Book Fragments from Blackbeard's Ship

Blackbeard cannon chamber

Fragments from Blackbeard's Ship

(Image credit: Courtesy of the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources)

The concreted breech chamber of a cannon was recovered from Queen Anne's Revenge, Blackbeard's flagship that he used during his career as a pirate from 1717 to 1718. The ship ran aground off the coast of North Carolina 300 years ago. [Read more about the Blackbeard book fragments]

After cleaning

Fragments from Blackbeard's Ship

(Image credit: Courtesy of the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources)

Underwater archaeologists have been excavating the site of Queen Anne's Revenge for two decades. The breech chamber, shown here after cleaning, is among hundreds of thousands of artifacts found at the wreck.

Surprise inside

Fragments from Blackbeard's Ship

(Image credit: Courtesy of the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources)

During cleaning, this wad of material, covered in dark black sludge was found inside breech chamber. While soaking the contents, conservators realized the material consisted of fragments of printed text, a rare find from sunken ships.

Dry text

Fragments from Blackbeard's Ship

(Image credit: Courtesy of the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources)

In total 16 pieces of paper were found. After the fragments were dried, conservators tried to transcribe the text.

Matched page

Fragments from Blackbeard's Ship

(Image credit: Courtesy of the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources)

Text of one paper fragment is shown matched to text from a page in Edward Cooke’s 1712 travelogue and adventure tale, A voyage to the South Sea around the world.

The giveaway

Fragments from Blackbeard's Ship

(Image credit: Courtesy of the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources)

What led researchers to Edward Cooke’s book was the distinct place name of Hilo, Peru. The book could have belonged to one of Blackbeard's crew members, or was perhaps stolen from one of the merchant ships the pirates plundered.