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Researchers Identify 350 Artifacts from Probable Blackbeard Shipwreck

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RALEIGH — Blackbeard the piratetook over ships, raided cities, fought battles and won. But, he apparently could not beat the sailing dangers off our coast.

WRAL'sAmanda Lambgot a glimpse of the latest artifacts from what is believed to be Blackbeard's flagship.

Researchers are excited about what they are finding. After two years of underwater exploration, they have uncovered hundreds of artifacts which date back to Blackbeard's era.

They still have not found the definitive piece which proves the ship is Blackbeard's, but they say they're closer than ever.

"I am 99 percent sure, if not 100 percent, that this is the Queen Anne's Revenge," said researcher Phil Masters.

After making 501 dives in the murky water ofBeaufort Inletover a 19 day period, researchers say they are getting closer to the truth.

Each artifact is another piece in the intricate puzzle. When it is finished, researchers hope it will prove the shipwreck is Queen Anne's Revenge.

Mike Daniel, a private researcher who first discovered the wreck in November 1996, says he never dreamed they would find so much, so fast.

"I never imagined we would be so successful in finding what we have," said Daniel. "The items were a real scientific breakthrough in their day, and Blackbeard had them in his hands."

The researchers have identified 350 artifacts, including 18 canons, 2 wine bottles, 2 pewter plates, scientific instruments and even a small amount of gold.

The findings are historically significant, because the ship is thought to be the oldest wreck in North Carolina's waters.

But it is perhaps most fascinating because of the rare glimpse it offers into a pirate's world.

"People have such romanticism about pirates. This gives us an opportunity to explore that time period," said Richard Lawrence of the N.C. Underwater Archaeology Unit.

Researchers say they need a larger place to store and display the artifacts.

The North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources says it will lobby theGeneral Assemblynext year for money to build a conservation lab.