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Ancient Mystery Clearing Up On NC Coast

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BEAUFORT — A mystery more than 250 years old may besolved within a matter of weeks off the North Carolina Coast.State archeologists are slowly bringing up pieces of what they believeis the Queen Anne's Revenge, the flagship of the dreaded pirate Blackbeard.

Wednesday, researchers led the first tour of the wreck site.

Nearly everyday, small treasures are emerging from the salty waters offFort Macon. Each one is potential proof that Blackbeard's flag ship,missing more than 250 years, has finally been discovered just one mileoffshore.

Jeffrey Crow, director of the NC Division of Archeology, says artifactsfound around the site will be analyzed at great length.

The crew was always prepared for battle, and many of the artifactsappear to have been stolen from other vessels. All indicators point to theearly 1700's, when Blackbeard terrorized the seas.

State Archeologist Leslie Bright says the items found are indicative ofthe time.

Scientists say that right now, they're 95 percent sure they have found Blackbeard's ship. But, even if it isn't, they say, it is the oldestunderwater find in state history. If it is Blackbeard's, it is arguablythe most important discovery ever made in North Carolina waters.

State Archeologist Steve Claggett says there is a big spotlight on thisproject.

The multi-million dollar study should last at least three more years,as scientists search remains of the wreck.

The Graveyard of the Atlantic is aptly named. Researchers believe morethan 4,000 sunken ships are in the waters off the North Carolina coast.Most of the wrecks were caused by bad weather,but some ships were sunk inbattle. About 900 of the wrecks have been discovered anddocumented. Only a little more than 600 of those have ever beenidentified.

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