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