It’s likely Edward Teach didn’t need much to scare his enemies. After all, the notorious pirate better known as Blackbeard boasted a thick mass of facial hair so intimidating that it got immortalized in history.
He also numbered among the first corsairs to fly a black flag with bones on it. And, according to some accounts, he had a habit of lighting fuses beneath his hat, a halo of smoke giving the bristly sea dog a decidedly demonic aspect.
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But archaeologists now suspect they’ve found one more clue behind the pirate’s menace: what could very well be Blackbeard’s sword, or at least part of it. National Geographic published photos released by a team that has for over a decade been excavating the Queen Anne’s Revenge, which was Blackbeard’s flagship until it ran aground in an inlet off the coast of North Carolina in 1718. These include fragments of a gilded hilt and pommel, possibly of French design (Blackbeard’s ship was a retrofitted French merchant vessel). The shipwreck has been worked on since 1997. NatGeo has more pictures of objects recovered here.
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Before abandoning the Queen Anne’s Revenge, Blackbeard used it in a daring 1717 blockade of the port of Charleston, S.C, where he and his fleet successfully managed to obtain ransom from the British colonial government for the town and its inhabitants. But troops dispatched from Virginia would eventually catch up to him — after he had already abandoned his flaghsip — and in a fearsome sea fight Blackbeard was eventually surrounded and hacked to death.
His headless body was then tossed into the ocean.
The pirate may now languish in Davy Jones’ Locker, but his likely blade may have been brought to light — further evidence of how Blackbeard’s bite was as bad as his bark.
In other urgent pirate news, Johnny Depp is on the cover of this week’s Entertainment Weekly:
– By Ishaan Tharoor
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