Friday, May 08, 2015

Captain Kidd's Treasure Found

Underwater explorers in Madagascar say they have discovered treasure belonging to the notorious 17th-Century Scottish pirate William Kidd.  A 50kg (over 110 pounds) silver bar was brought to shore on Thursday on the island of Sainte Marie, from what is thought to be the wreck of the Adventure Galley. The bar was presented to Madagascar's president at a special ceremony.
US explorer Barry Clifford says he believes there are many more such bars still in the wreck. There is much excitement in Madagascar about the discovery and Mr Clifford's team has no doubt that the discovery is genuine.
Capt Kidd was first appointed by the British authorities to tackle piracy but later became a ruthless
criminal and was executed in 1701.

Barry Clifford at ceremony on Sainte Marie island

Barry Clifford led a team which discovered the suspected treasure
Soldiers guard silver bar in Madagascar 7 May 2015

Soldiers watched over the silver at a ceremony attended by the president and diplomats

The team believes the bar, marked with what appears to be a letter S and a letter T, has its origins in 17th-Century Bolivia.
They believe the ship they have found was built in England, however there is bound to be scepticism and calls for more proof that the bar was linked to Capt Kidd. One option would be to take samples of wood from the ship to analyze, Clifford says.
treasure map

The location of the ship, thought to have sunk in 1698, has been known about for many years but the silver bar was only discovered earlier this week.
Mr Clifford said that while diving in the wreck, his metal detector picked up signals but it was too muddy for him to see anything. The detector pin-pointed the location of the silver bar. He believes it is one of many.
UK ambassador to Madagascar Timothy Smart, who attended the ceremony, said he hoped that Mr Clifford's latest discovery would raise Madagascar's profile as a tourist destination. The plan is to exhibit the all the bars, brought up from the wreck, in a museum.

Who was Captain Kidd?

He is thought to have been born in Scotland's Greenock or the Dundee area in about 1645.  He was appointed by the Crown to tackle piracy and capture enemy French ships, but turned to piracy himself. In 1698, he looted the Armenian ship the Quedagh Merchant, which was apparently sailing under a French pass.
Drawing of Scottish-born American privateer and pirate William 'Captain' Kidd standing on the deck of a ship, brandishing a sword, circa 1690

There have been numerous searches for William Kidd's loot 

Circa 1701, Scottish pirate Captain William Kidd (1650 - 1701) appears before the bar of the House of Commons in London.
He appeared before the bar of the House of Commons before his execution

The Quedagh Merchant had been carrying satins, muslins, gold and silver. Unfortunately for Kidd, the captain of the ship was an Englishman, and it is thought that a large amount of the cargo belonged to the British East India Company.
Capt Kidd was captured and brought back to London. He was found guilty of piracy and the murder of one of his crewmen during a row in 1697, and sentenced to death.

During his execution in Wapping in 1701, the first rope put around his neck broke, so he was strung up a second time. That rope also snapped, but the third one held. Afterwards, his body was dipped in tar and hung by chains along the River Thames to serve as a warning to would-be pirates.

Legend had it that Capt Kidd hid much of his loot, which has prompted numerous treasure hunts around the world and inspired author Robert Louis Stevenson when writing Treasure Island.

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