Skip to Main Content
Sign In
Visit Apply Give

News Blackbeard's reading habits

Image Picker for Section 0

​Melissa Tedone, book and library conservator at Winterthur and an affiliated assistant professor at UD (left), and Jocelyn Alcántara-Garcia, an assistant professor at UD and on the staff of Winterthur Museum's Scientific Research and Analysis Laboratory, with a cutout of Blackbeard the pirate. (Image: UDaily)

​Researchers, divers, and a team of WUDPAC experts have recovered and analyzed paper fragments recovered from the pirate's sunken flagship. From the January 23, 2018 article in UDaily, written by Beth Miller:

If you wrote this into a script, only a sci-fi producer would buy it. But researchers, divers and art conservators -- including a team from the Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation -- have discovered and analyzed paper fragments retrieved from the shipwreck North Carolina archaeologists say is the Queen Anne's Revenge, flagship of an 18th-century pirate whose name sent a chill into the bone marrow of anyone whose path might cross his.

Blackbeard. The infamous pirate was said to have set parts of his enormous beard on fire just to intimidate his enemies in battle. So what can be made of these paper fragments -- and how in the world could they have survived almost 300 years under the sea? . . . .

​Jocelyn Alcántara-Garcia, an assistant professor at UD and on the staff of Winterthur Museum's Scientific Research and Analysis Laboratory, does analysis of fibers in the paper. (Image: UDaily)

It may be the first paper -- ever -- discovered after three centuries under the sea. "If it's not the first, it's certainly in a very tiny minority," said Melissa Tedone, book and library conservator at Winterthur and an affiliated assistant professor at UD. Tedone and [chemist, Winterthur scientist, and UD assistant professor Jocelyn] Alcántara-Garcia can't explain how the fragments survived, but several theories have been proposed. "It's possible the paper fragments weren't actually exposed to water while underwater in the shipwreck," Tedone said. "They may have been caught in a pocket of air." Or they may have been in a spot where there was no oxygen. . . .

It is unclear how Blackbeard or any of his shipmates may have come into possession of this book, whether pirate ships often featured a library and whether many of those aboard were even literate. But such volumes could have been prized bits of booty captured in one of their many raids, Tedone said.


To read more about this project, the collaboration with other UD/Winterthur staff, and what this find may tell us about Blackbeard and his crew, read the article "Tiny Pirate Papers," at the UDaily website, here. Another article on this project and other artifacts recovered from the Queen Anne's Revenge is available online at National Geographic, here.

News Story Supporting Images and Text
Used in the Home Page News Listing and for the News Rollup Page
Researchers, divers, and a team of WUDPAC experts have recovered and analyzed paper fragments recovered from the pirate's sunken flagship.

​Researchers, divers, and a team of WUDPAC experts have recovered and analyzed paper fragments recovered from the pirate's sunken flagship.

1/26/2018
Page Settings and MetaData:
(Not Shown on the Page)
Page Settings
Blackbeard's reading habits
 
No
 
 
MetaData for Search Engine Optimization
Blackbeard's reading habits
 
  • The Department of Art Conservation
  • 303 Old College
  • University of Delaware
  • Newark, DE 19716, USA
  • Phone: 302-831-3489
  • art-conservation@udel.edu