2005 Salt Lake City Annual Meeting (October 16–19, 2005)

Paper No. 6
Presentation Time: 9:40 AM


MILLER, J. William, Environmental Studies, University of North Carolina at Asheville, CPO 2330, Asheville, NC 28804, CRAIG, James R., Geological Sciences, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA 24061, CALLAHAN, John E., Geology, Appalachian State University, Boone, NC 28608 and WILDE-RAMSING, Mark, Underwater Archaeology Branch, PO Box 58, Kure Beach, NC 28449, jwmiller@unca.edu

Between 1717 and 1718, Blackbeard the Pirate roamed the East Coast of the US and Caribbean, plundering merchant ships, blockading the port of Charleston, and conspiring with the Governor of North Carolina. In 1996, a shipwreck suspected to be the remains of Blackbeard's flagship, the Queen Anne's Revenge (QAR), was discovered in Beaufort Inlet, North Carolina by Intersal, Inc., a company engaged in exploration for and excavation of historic shipwrecks. Intersal and the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources now are cooperating to excavate and preserve the shipwreck. Many researchers from state government agencies and regional universities have analyzed the artifacts, wood from the ship's hull, ballast stones, sedimentology of the shipwreck site, encrusting organisms, and historical records. Circumstantial evidence indicates the shipwreck is that of the Queen Anne's Revenge although no absolute proof has been found to date.

Research at the wreck site has provided many opportunities for informal and formal education, where geological techniques have been and continue to be used to verify the true identity of the shipwreck. Many of these activities are described on the official website for the project (http://www.ah.dcr.state.nc.us/qar/default.htm) and detailed at the yearly Blackbeard Festival Symposium (open to the public) each spring. Other venues include talks to school and community groups, newspaper and magazine articles, television shows, and the traveling exhibit available to community groups and museums; the NC Math/Science Center provided funds for ten presentations about the project to elementary school students while studying social studies. More formal forms of education include university research and publication.

This project is interdisciplinary research at its best, using scientific techniques to answer a historical question. This interdisciplinary nature also presents funding challenges, in which granting agencies that typically fund historical projects indicate the QAR project is “too scientific,” and agencies that typically fund scientific projects indicate the QAR project does not answer questions in earth science or does not fall into an “anthropological context.”