n the fall of 1996, a private treasure-hunting company discovered a shipwreck in shallow waters a mile off the coast of this colonial fishing harbor.
Divers found a bronze bell dated 1705, an English musketoon gun barrel, and 18th century cannons and cannon balls.
North Carolina's top marine archaeologists were pretty sure the wreck was the Queen Anne's Revenge, the cannon-heavy flagship of the notorious pirate Blackbeard that ran aground here in 1718. But being scientists, they used buzzkill qualifiers such as "believed to be" and "consistent with" to describe the wreck.
Now, after examining thousands of artifacts and digging through historical records, those same archaeologists have finally delivered a verdict:
The ship is very likely, just about dead sure, all but certain, no doubt the Queen Anne's Revenge. Pretty much.
"It's in the right place, from the right time, with a preponderance of circumstantial evidence that has become overwhelming," said David Moore, a sturdy, bearded nautical archaeologist who has spent 15 years diving the wreck.
No one has found "the smoking blunderbuss," said Jeffrey Crow, a historian with North Carolina's Office of Archives and History. But archaeological detective work has proved that every significant artifact — from swords to gold pieces to silver boot buckles to a diamond-encrusted wine glass — is dated before the 1718 wreck. That and other compelling evidence confirm that the ship can be none other than the Queen Anne's Revenge.
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