Mike Wehner writes: Hollywood has had a love affair with pirates for a long, long time, but no matter how many swashbuckling tales you’ve seen on the silver screen, you’ve probably never bothered to wonder what pirates read in their down time. Sure, firing cannon balls at hostile vessels and forcing enemy captains to walk the plank must have been exciting, but sailing is actually pretty boring most of the time. Now, the discovery of tiny scraps of paper on the infamous pirate Blackbeard’s flagship offers a clue as to what bored pirates read during their down time.
The paper fragments, most of which were smaller than a quarter, were found in a pile of wet gunk crammed inside the chamber of one of the cannons of Blackbeard’s iconic ship, Queen Anne’s Revenge. After bringing the cannon back to the surface researchers were able to preserve the incredibly old paper, which is thought to be around 300 years old. Remarkably, some of the printed text was still readable … (read more)