ATLANTIC BEACH, NC (WECT) - He was a real-life pirate of the Caribbean and his reputation was known and feared.
Now, almost 300 years after his death, marine archaeologists have been recovering artifacts from Blackbeard's flagship, the Queen Anne's Revenge, located just off the North Carolina coastline.
The items recovered will go through an extensive conservation effort before going on public display.
This week, divers are scheduled to head back to the wreck site, in hopes of bringing up more artifacts.
If divers are successful in lifting more cannons from the QAR site, they would join more than a dozen other cannons that have been retrieved since the wreckage was discovered in 1996. However, since they have been underwater for almost 300 years, everything is encrusted with a substance similar to concrete.
Many of the items recovered are called artifact conglomerates, or clusters of metallic objects, which have stuck together as they deteriorated.
All of the wreck site has been explored, and more than half of the artifacts have been recovered. In addition to bringing up large items, the teams have been affixing experimental zinc anodes to any large metal items they are not yet able to recover. The devices will conserve the artifacts before they can be brought to the surface by slowing, and possibly even reversing, the process of corrosion.
"We have been monitoring that throughout the project, and four of the guns that are coming up have been part of that process," said Billy Ray Morris, head of the Queen Anne's Revenge team. "We are going to take the last bit of data captured in this project this month to get all of the information we need, and then we will compare it with what they do when they are in the water at the lab, in a controlled environment."
The North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources owns the artifacts, and the largest display is at the Maritime Museum in Beaufort. But as more artifacts are being recovered and go through the conservation effort at the QAR lab in Greenville, the state is making it possible for more people to see them.
A statewide touring exhibit is now in western North Carolina, and more traveling exhibits are in the works as more artifacts are recovered and interest in one of North Carolina's most feared pirates grows.
All of the artifacts should be recovered from the wreck site by the end of next year, but because of their fragile condition, it may take up to 15 years before all of the items will be conserved enough to be put on public display.
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