The ABC's of Film Noir
The ABC's of Film Noir

Dr. Russell K. Skowronek Talks Pirate Archaeology for Archaeology and the Movies Series

I am very excited to announce that archaeologist Dr. Russell K. Skowronek is being interviewed for the Archaeology and the Movies Series. Dr. Skowronek is a professor at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. He is also an expert on pirate archaeology. He has written numerous books, many with nautical themes. His books include:

X Marks the Spot: The Archaeology of Piracy

Pieces of Eight: More Archaeology of Piracy

HMS Fowey Lost and Found: Being the Discovery, Excavation, and Identification of a British Man-of-War Lost off the Cape of Florida in 1748

In this very exciting interview, Dr. Skowronek touches on the history, archaeology, and the modern emergence of piracy. For an understanding of pirate archaeology, click the link below or read the transcript below.

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Transcript

John – 00:00 Today we’re here with Dr. Russell Skowronek, he’s at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. I think I got that right and he’s an archaeologist and a well-known expert on pirates. And he may even be one himself. How are you doing today, sir?

Russ – 00:17 – I’m doing very good. Thank you for having me on board.

John – 00:21 – We really appreciate you taking the time. I wanted to just jump right in and kind of before we go into your expertise on pirate archaeology, I wanted to ask you if you had any favorite movies that are pirate themed movies going back. And I like the classics Captain Blood, Tyrone Power and all those kinds of like that. Do you have any favorites?

Russ – 00:48 – I do like the early ones when a lot with Captain Blood and the rest are good. I think that Errol Flynn is always a classic. But I have to say that like everyone else, Johnny Depp has really steeled the, has stolen the hearts of all of us.

John – 01:05 – That first one was pretty good. I don’t care so much for the ones after that, but it got to be a little much. At some point I thought,

Russ – 01:13 – well, it is a cottage industry. I’d love to ride his coattails to at least a small pot of money.

John – 01:20 – Yeah, no doubt about it. So, do you? How do you feel that, or what do you think about the connection between actual archaeology that you do and movies? How the interplay, how students, you, and regular people feel about it?

Russ – 01:41 – That’s a really good question. I teach a class here that has. I had sex up the title, right? So now it’s called shipwrecks pirates and the sea. It originally was called maritime archaeology and history and everyone said what’s maritime mean? So, you have to kind of tart things up a little bit to get it out there. But, I, I think one of the important things about, when you’re, when you’re looking at films is it certainly captures people’s imagination, especially with a popular film like the Johnny Depp ones. I guess it would be akin to thinking about when Indiana Jones first came out with, with Raiders of the Lost Ark back and whatever that was, 79 or 80, it was a shot in the arm for archaeologists. Archaeologists at all. It’s a terrible thing, but the reality is it gave attention to the field and I think that’s, you know, for, for all the people that say it was bad. It was a rollicking good film and we liked it. Right? When we look at this issue of the pirate films. What’s interesting is people fall in love with the character. They fall in love with how, how that character you know represents sort of being a rogue and a lovable rogue on the outside. But the reality comes in as well who were pirates. Pirates represent. And I think that’s the toughest thing when I’m teaching my students to say there’s the Johnny Depp version and then there’s the reality. And so

John – 03:20 – not quite so sweet as they maybe seen on the screen.

Russ – 03:24 – Not nearly as sweet as they were on the screen. And in fact, the reality comes out of it is, these folks were thieves. They were killers. There is when, when people today, if you ask people if they watch the film, you want to talk about favorite films, Captain Phillips, right? The film based on a, the Maersk Alabama. That was taken a few years ago that, Tom. Oh God, I’m blanking on his name. Yeah. Tom Hanks is in any film and Tom Hanks can sell it, but the reality you come in and you say is these folks. No, they are killers. They can do different things. And, and part of what I try to teach my students is why, why does piracy exist? Right? Why does it exist, who, who ends up falling into piracy? And, and then how do you ultimately recognize a pirate, not only a living pirates today, but how do you recognize pirates, God help us in the archaeological record. And that of course is the, that is the million-dollar question, but I think we’re making good progress on it. Where do you want to begin with those things John?

John – 04:47 – I just would like to explore that, what you said a minute ago about why do pirate exist, because I don’t know the answer to that.

Russ – 04:56 – I think the main way to explain why piracy exists has to do with larger, social issues that are taking place. A lot of times what we find because pirates are, they are, they are, how do I want to place this? Pirates are there. They are taking from one group for themselves. That’s the easy answer to it. They’re thieves. Well, why? Why do those thieves have a place in our world where, how do they operate? Well, obviously there are certain folks that, that have it. So let me use a couple of examples from history. Julius Caesar, the famed Julius Caesar was captured by pirates when he was in his youth and he was held hostage until they were able to come up with a ransom. And he said, yeah, likable people. He stayed with them for a period of time, but he told them when he was ransomed

Russ – 05:59 – I’m going to come back and we’re going to get you guys. And by God he did come back and he killed them. There, there it is. Why did he do it? Because pirates represent a disruption of of commerce and have a peaceful life, so you have that sort of situation. When you look at the pirates from the Golden Age, 1690 to 1720. Why do they exist? Well, they start off potentially not as pirates per se, but as privateers. Wars come to an end, all these guys that were making a living are put on the beach. They have no way to make a living anymore. They don’t need as many people in navies. They don’t need as much else, so how are they going to survive? They’re going to steal, and so we see that when we see pirates later in the 19th century, in the Pacific, and in other locations that are out there in a

Russ – 06:59 – Why do they exist? Well, they exist for those reasons. Why are they then suppressed? We see the United States suppresses piracy in the Caribbean. Well, the likes of Jean Laffite and others and the 1820s. Why do they do it for commerce in the Pacific? Who handles that? The British navy, so that they can keep traffic running very carefully. In and out of Hong Kong, so they suppress Chinese pirates. When we get into the 20th century why, why is there so little piracy until the 1990s, the Soviet Union and the United States. It’s not good to have, you know, you have your client states, whether it’s in Africa, whether it’s in Southeast Asia, you want those people that are going to be in line with you. So, all these things are out there and they’re in that point. But then what happens? All of the Berlin Wall comes down in 1988, 89 and the Soviet Union collapses in 1992 and those of us of a certain age will remember everyone talked about the peace dividend, right?

Russ – 08:11 – Remember the peace dividend? We won’t need such a big navy. We won’t need such a big army. And why are we spending all that money on these third world nations?

John – 08:22 – I think I heard that this morning.

Russ – 08:23 – The United States pulls the money out from these, from these states. The Soviet Union is gone. They pulled the money out and places like Somalia collapse, Somalia collapses. All these people that used to have money in other ways to survive. What are they going to do? Well, they’re right there on the shipping lanes. Everything that comes up through, you know, the Red Sea or goes up to the Arabian Sea these people have to make a living. They’re starving. And so, a lot of times when you look at it as piracy exists because people have no other choices. They are hungry and these are easy targets to go after merchant ships. And if you think about it, I’m sorry, I sound like a professor and I’m trying not to sound like a professor.

Russ – 09:12 – You want people to listen to this podcast but, but when you think about it is when we have merchant ships, merchant ships make their profit by having as much cargo as possible on-board with the very smallest number of crew members. And the reason is for every crew member you have to have food and drink on board. That takes away from cargo space. It means that the, the voyage becomes less profitable the minute you start having to have, if you will supernumeraries on-board, you know, marines, sailors, you know, this sort of stuff that would be for protection. Like see marshal’s, if you want to call them back, well then, you’ve got to pay their salaries, you gotta feed them and they take away from other things. So, this is one of the reasons why navy’s exist to patrol sea lanes. It’s like having a, you know, a policemen out on the streets, you want these things to take place.

Russ – So that’s why piracy exists. And that’s one of the reasons why, during the 20th century there was very little piracy in the world until the 1990s. And then beginning in the 1990s up to the present, the number of pirate attacks has exploded. There’s been well over 6,000 pirate attacks since 1992 in the world. And the vast majority of have taken place either right there by Somalia. Again, where the sea lanes all come together going to the Middle East and Africa. And then the second other choke hold point is at the Straits of Malacca between Indonesia and Malaysia. And again, think about all those ships that are going up into China and making their way into the Indian Ocean. And vice versa, right there, going back and forth. And so, what we find are these huge container ships that are making their way and you know, this container ships or sailed by 15, maybe 30 people and the pirates come up on them usually in very small fast boats and they will be packed and these guys will be armed with everything from a rocket propelled grenades to Molotov cocktails

Russ – 11:49 – Ak47s. And the way they get onto these giant ships today is the old-fashioned way. They have giant ladders. And so, you know, oftentimes when I’ll talk to my students and they’ll say, well, how do we know these are not legitimate fishermen? And I say, well, besides the AK 47 and the Molotov cocktails, there’s a 30-foot ladder on board. No, there are no nets. There’s nothing else. But what has been told to the people of the modern, you know, these, these merchant sailors, they’ve been told you’re not paid to defend the cargos. Give them whatever they want. And a lot of the times these guys will come up, they’ll steal, they’ll still fire extinguishers. People’s watches, line, a flashlight, I mean some of this stuff are very small attacks sometimes though they’ll get more, and in some cases, they’ll take the entire ship, people will be held hostage or they’ll take the ship and they’ll basically repainted and get rid of it that way. So, some things haven’t changed in the past 300 years. It’s just, you know, how is it taking place? So that was probably more than you wanted to hear about pirates, but that’s why pirates exists. They’re people that are trying to survive.

John – 13:13 – That made me want to sign up for your class to tell you the truth .

Russ – 13:18 – I’ll send you the slide shows.

John – 13:20 – Okay. I want to go back to these mentioned earlier. Our mutual friend Ken Wild, mentioned to me that he thought he had found some pirate sites and what kind of information, like we ran into this when we were at Guilford Courthouse. What kind of artifact assemblage represents a courthouse? And so what kind of artifact assemblage represents a pirate site?

Russ – 13:46 – That is a kind of a million dollar question, if you will. One of the things that I always tell my students is how to tell, how would you recognize a pirate? Right? You know, what goes on. And one of the key things, and I’m a, I’m trying to find out what are some of the key things that we have is that, you need to ask yourself, are you dealing with, and I use this with my students, are you dealing with legitimate business people or smugglers and Ne’er do wells and it works better. But, again, we’re of a certain age that you’ll get it. I’ll put up a picture from the Godfather, right? And there’s, there’s a, there’s the Godfather saying there. And then I have a picture of the three sons leaning against the black Packard in their black suits. And, and there’s the line in the Godfather where he says, I’m a legitimate business man, right?

Russ – 14:44 – He’s selling olive oil. And then I show a picture of Joe Kennedy and the, and the Kennedy clan in the 1930s leaning against a black Packard. And they’re nice clothes. And you look at Joe Kennedy and you say a illegitimate businessman. He was our ambassador to Britain before World War Two started, but everyone says is how did he make his money bring it in bootleg whiskey during prohibition? Is he a legitimate business man or was he a Ne’er do well, right? It all depends on your perspective. So how do you recognize an archaeological site? What are you going to have? And some of the stuff that I point out is one thing you go and you say the presence of exotica exotic items not erotica (tht’s another part, that’s a joke too), but exotic things that are not that you would not expect to find in a certain location. And what I mean by that, what I say is I’m using the example of the Kennedy’s

Russ – 15:51 – again, here’s a good example. after 1962, I guess, Bay of Pigs, it was illegal in this country to have Cuban cigars and it was not supposed to have bottles of Havana Club. You could bring it in, but you know, you’re not supposed to. We weren’t trading directly with Cuba, but if you found a box of cigars and Cuban rum at another point, and it was from a site that was dated before 1960, that’s not illegal behavior, is it not illegal. So some of these things that we have to keep in mind is with exotic items, the spatial and temporal contexts and what might be illegal at one point may be a perfectly legal at another. So it’s why as archaeologists, our control of the time is very important. You know, how old is the site, when does it date to the temporal aspects of it become very important.

Russ – 17:00 And part of the reason that that comes in there, especially archaeologically is when we’re talking about. And I did this, I did some of this research early on when I was looking at the Spanish colonial world is oftentimes we would have colleagues that would say, oh, clearly pirates were, were, people were coming in, they were smuggling, they were doing all this stuff because we find certain items, certain artifacts on sites and the things that most archaeologists, use are ceramics because we can tell where they were made and how, not just how, but when and where they were made. Well, the problem that we have to think about is that some of these items may seem to be a representative illicit trade, but the reality is, is they from a time period when perhaps there were trading alliance is at that point or someone was sitting on the throne of both say Portugal and Spain, right?

Russ – 17:59 – So is that illegal at that point? So you have to be parsimonious when you think about these things. You also have to consider the whole issue about, and this is, this is one of the joys of historical archaeology that I will say, John, that our, our professors, when we were wet behind the ears graduate students, this sort of thing, you know, our professors came out of a background of being prehistorians and that’s a fair statement to say the field really, you know, we always say the field was born in the 1960s, but the reality is, is he was born with people that were trained as prehistorians and it really has taken the last 60 years ago. Now, probably the last 30 years. Things have changed. And why I say that is that as a, as a good prehistorian, I always have to tell my students when I’m doing that kind of work during prehistoric researche is, you need to think regionally, right?

Russ – 19:05 – Because people are interacting regionally. You’re not, you’re not looking at a whole continent, you’re not looking at a global system. This sort of thing. People for the most part are thinking or acting regionally and we can all come up with, with, examples that might go beyond it, you know, the Mississippian world where you have copper coming from the Great Lakes and s hell coming from the Gulf or the Atlantic coast and, and other items shifting around Micah and other things. But even that is regional. It’s, it would be a rarity. You know, we still have people say, oh, well there’s a, there’s a direct contact between Mesoamerica and the Mississippian societies. It, other than things that may have come through trade, you know, through time, corn and beans and stuff like this. We, at least to my knowledge, we don’t have really direct evidence that you can point at something and say, Illinois, that clearly came out of Mesoamerica, you know, as an object for a fact.

Russ – 20:10 – I think you see what I’m driving him. But the minute we start talking about historical archaeology that has the post 1492 world, we start to, we, we, we are forced to begin thinking about world systems. And this is, boy shows you my age. I’m an old Wallersteinian, Immanuel Wallerstein, and why I say that is because now we’re talking about if we talk about the Spanish colonial world and we’re talking about Florida, well, Florida is not just Florida in the Spanish world. Florida is connected to Cuba. Cuba is connected to Mexico by way of the floata. It is also connected to Spain by means of the floata. Right? All these things are moving around and one of one of the things that I point out to folks is that the minute you start thinking globally, we start realizing that, Gosh, the Philippines for example, is a dependency.

Russ – 21:15 – It is part of new Spain. It’s 8,000 miles across the ocean, but it’s part of new Spain. You go to the Philippines and people are speaking Spanish. They’re living in houses that look like houses in St Augustine and elsewhere, and they’re drinking chocolate just as they’re drinking chocolate in St Augustine and they are drinking chocolate in Cadiz and Madrid. Right? It is a New World foods that are now spreading across the globe. Right? You have to think globally, so when we find things like porcelain on a, on a, on a site in the Americas, some people say on man, that’s, that’s evidence of illicit trade depending on what culture you’re looking at, right? If you’re on a French colonial site, it might represent that, but it also depends on when it gets there because there are certain times when France and Spain are allies, right? So when you think about Saint Augustine, oftentimes people say, oh, Saint Augustine, look at this French material in there coming out of Mobile, for example, and you’re going to say, well, what’s so weird about that there?

Russ – 22:32 – There’s the family compact. There’s, there’s trade going on between the Bourbons in the 18th century. So one of the things that we fall into as archaeologists is, especially if we’re talking historical archaeology and we’re talking about pirates, we need to think about this. We need to know our history, what’s going on at home in the motherland, other countries as well as what’s going on out in the colonies. Now I tell you that whole story simply because if you talk about Ken Wild and his discoveries, or you talk about the stuff that comes out of Barataria Bay, the so called Jean Laffite sites that are out there that hell, another hurricane and won’t be anything left of those islands, Grand Terre the rest of them out there, but you look at these things and you’re going to say is what are we finding? Well, we may find exotic items again, you know, items like it could be ceramics in these locations.

Russ – 23:31 – And what’s important about finding those, those, materials in these places. Is their, their location? Why would we find a, um, you know, these exotic materials basically out in the middle of nowhere, right? As Ken’s talking about, he’s got places on the island where people are lighting fires at different times to guide ships into a certain location. We have another colleague in Ireland that there were places where they would bring the ships in and they would put the lanterns in just the right location that the ship could come in, unload their stuff, take it up the bluffs, and then it would disappear into the Irish countryside – location. So sometimes we’re going to find stuff that we can’t find. Another explanation for. There is no town nearby, there’s no, there’s no, a plantation or something else. So sometimes what we have to remember is bad people, bad people, people engaged in elicit behave.

Russ – 24:48 – Their key thing is not to get caught and if you don’t want to get caught, you want to take care of the stuff where there won’t be prying eyes to see you. So first thing we’ve ended up with is contraband and that contraband has to be based on our knowledge of the temporal and the political stuff, the location of these sites, you know, are they out of the way, what’s going on? And then from that standpoint, we ended up falling into a couple of minor things which could go either way. And I think this is the hardest part people have said often will, are there specialized tools to be a pirate?

John – 25:34 – Hook hands and eye patches?

Russ – 25:38 – We used to joke, Charlie Ewen and I, we worked on these books together. We said, you’re not going to find, you’re not going to excavate a ship and have find a keg filled with hooks and, and parrots skeletons and, or maybe peg legs or something like that. And the reason we say these things is that, is that the reality is these are, there are no specialized tools per se that says this is a pirate, right? The items that we find on vessels that we’ve recognized as pirate ships or other things are not so much specialized as they are specialized to where we want to say largely anti-personnel materials to stuff to scare people, to try not to damage the other cargo that you’re going to steal too much. And but they are also the sorts of things that you would find on naval vessels. What are they, again, they’re trying to stop people from doing things or on some of vessels that might be engaged in perhaps they’re carrying a cargo that’s highly, where do I want to say a, a perishable cargo. And of course, what I’m thinking of here is the issue of slave ships.

Russ – 27:07 – Slave ships are one of the things that when we start talking about transportation, what, what ships are, or what kind of vessels are chosen by pirates. And the key things that we have to think about is they want vessels that are very fast and hopefully have shallow draft. And let me try to talk about that for a moment or two. You want them to be fast because the key thing that pirates do not want to do is get into a firefight with a naval vessel, right? Large numbers of these folks had served in the navy. They know what navy ships can do. They know that navy ships are armed with usually a, a great variety of different, armament. Everything from large guns down to small swivel guns. And the reason is, is the right tool for the right job, right on pirate ships, again, they want to have enough guns to necessarily to, to, to just cow people by shooting over there bow or something like this, but they don’t want to take up space and most of all these guys just want to get their booty and run.

Russ – 28:23 – But a number of the vessels that have been found that have been identified as pirate ships, for example, the Whydah off of Cape Cod, Sam Bellamy ship, or the Queen Anne’s revenge off of Morehead City. And, the North Carolina coast Blackbeard’s vessel from a year later, 1718. These have both been identified as in their previous incarnation as being slaved vessels. They were used for carrying perishable cargo, human beings on the middle passage from Africa to the Americas. They needed to be fast because these people died on board the vessels. So, they wanted fast ships. They also needed these vessels to be of shallow draft because they would pull these vessels right up to the, to the shore in places like Whydah and other locals on the west African coast and of course what was good about that wasn’t getting their cargos on, but what’s good for pirates is if they’re shallow-drafted, they can run into places that more deeply drafted naval ships could not follow them. And the,> you know, the most successful pirates we always say are the ones we don’t know because they, they lived to fight another day. So we have that. Should I keep going or do you want to ask me questions? I’m sorry I’m sucking the oxygen out of the room?

John – 29:56 – Your’e doing great. I like this so much. I want to ask. Wait, what may be a naive question. I know there were female pirates, but like in one of these pirate sites, would it be a male dominated site? Unless it was a town or something like a work site. We were like, we’re on an offloading side. You’re looking at this elicit assemblage. Would you necessarily lack anything that might represent females?

Russ – 30:25 – I think if you’re talking about location, know you can always talk about Port Royal, Jamaica or maybe Tortuga where you actually have an actual kind of a town where things would go place. You would, you would definitely have females involved in that and you see them, heck, you could watch Black Sails and you could see all the women involved in that television show. But I think for the most part many of these sites would have been very much male dominated. And again, keeping in mind that a lot of these sites, especially where things are being offloaded would be ephemeral. We get the stuff off. We get them onto a smaller like lighters or in think about Jean Lafitte Bateau, that sort of thing that you can run up the bayous, get them into New Orleans, get them unloaded before anyone knows that you’re there. So, so for the most part, I mean I would tend to agree with you that overall we don’t normally expect to find items that you would associate with the, the female sides of things.

Russ – 31:38 – But I think, you know, one of the questions might be a better one, and I put it back to you is have people really looked for it. You know, that we often have times in archaeology and we can both attest to this. Folks who have said, well, where are the children, where are the women? And a lot of it is, is it’s hard sometimes to differentiate who are the women who are the children. And I think some of the things, going back to your original question, we often, we often base our views of what we’re going to find on movies or popular books and boy that’s a mistake because you know, our concept of, of what, what, what items we would associate with women are based on our experiences from the 20th and 21st centuries. And the further back in time we go, it really requires a whole lot more time.

Russ – 32:37 – Not just digging in the documents, but I mean even looking at paintings, you know, or looking at Hogarth’s engravings so that we start getting a more nuanced picture of the past. You know, a lot of times we sure like to think that archaeology is going to be and the end all. But I’m, I’ve become very much. I embrace old Bob Skyler’s four aspects of, of doing research on historic sites and it’s the same with pirates is you need to use the written word documents, the spoken word, oral histories from people, observe behavior, had a modern pirates do things right and look at the Somalis and stuff like this. And then the preserved behavior, the archeological record, how do these things all come together? And I, you know, and like I said, I’m quoting guys like Bob Skylar, you could think about Walter Taylor, same thing with the right, they conjunctive approach bringing this different lines of evidence together to try to, to say, do we have women visible? How would we recognize them? And I’ll tell you it would not be easy. So sorry, I wrecking it for people. So let me follow up just along that line.

John – 34:01 – Could you tell me a little bit or tell the audience a little bit, how diverse pirates were? I know you mentioned Sam Bellamy and it’s something they might like to know.

Russ – 34:12 – Pirates pirates are interesting because they come in all stripes. We had, we had African pirates, a people that had been previously enslaved that become pirates here in the Americas and elsewhere. We would find a Dutch pirates and French pirates. They’re Spanish pirates even though we watched, you know, you talked about watching those movies, those old movies and my mother and father used to watch and I watch them because that was all that was on television and it was always, the Spanish were never shown as pirates. It was, there were Dutch and there were English. But the reality is, is a virtually, if there was a person, they could become a pirate. And oftentimes the crews were multicultural, multilingual in these places. Certainly, in Asia, we, we would also have Chinese and other groups in there, a melees, Indonesians are involved in it. And they certainly, it was a polyglot sort of a societies. These folks would also, there, there does seem to be good evidence that part of what was attractive about it was not only the opportunity to make money, but was also the issue of, of things were much more, I hate using word democratic, but there wasn’t the hierarchies that we would always know of these earlier time periods, you know, officers and the Lords. These people are much more equal shares for equal work.

John – 35:56 – I want to ask you two more questions because we’re getting on up around 40 minutes,

Russ – 36:00 – Sorry

John – 36:00 – No, it’s wonderful. This is going to be fascinating to everybody when they hear it. Archaeologists all considered themselves pirates of science. Right?

John – 36:15 – Do you have anything to say about that?

Russ – 36:19 – I would say that, yeah, I guess I do, archaeologists you can call us the pirates of science and I like it. And maybe we’re pirates of science because coming out of training as an anthropologist, I’m sorry, I got to wear my professorial hat for a moment. I currently am housed in both anthropology program and a history program and I can tell the folks in history oftentimes don’t especially appreciate my approach to the past and it’s probably because I am a pirate, an anthropologists. We’ve been trained to use those different lines of evidence that I just mentioned before, right. Written word, the spoken word, observe behavior and preserve behavior. We’ve also been taught to understand what is culture, right, and that how we learn it. It’s our way of adapting to our environment and the fact that we are. We work with people who are geologists and environmental scientists to help explain the phenomenon that we’re seeing for the world that we’re living in. I think for us to understand, pirates requires, as you said, taking a little bit from here and a little bit from there to make a more complete picture of the past. And I, and I feel that, and you’re gonna say, ah, you’re plugging the books, but you know, again, Charlie Ewen and I did those two books, X Marks the Spot: The Archaeology of Piracy and Pieces of Eight: More Archaeology of Piracy. I swear we’re going to use every line from that long enough.

Russ – 38:08 – And one of the things that we, as we looked at that book and we said to folks, how would you know, again, how would you recognize pirates? And we went through these things that we’ve been talking about now in the last 40 minutes. And we’ve said, no, you can’t base it on Johnny Depp movies. You can’t base it on, Sabatini books and films. You can’t, you shouldn’t do that. And you can, because it’s exciting. Everyone likes a good story. But what we need to do as scientists is bring the preponderance of evidence together, as Ken Wild attempted to do, as others that have attempted to do in other places. How did they know? Ultimately it was the Queen Anne’s revenge. No, what did they find on board? What is the preponderance of evidence that pushed it and said that’s what it was. That’s what we need to do.

Russ – 39:09 – And I think what becomes important for us then is to say, you know, so how do we recognize them? Do they have specialized clothes? Does everybody have an eyepatch and a peg leg? And a hook? Of course not. But you know what, sailors in that time period and you know, to this day, in that time period, it was not uncommon to have people with peg legs with hooks. And why was that? They lost them at battle. They were, they would have been in the Royal Navy and they, they keep on. If you think about long John Silver, he talks about how he lost that leg and it was because he was serving in the Royal Navy and his leg was carried away. And oftentimes they kept people on in the service because they could still do their job as a cook with one leg, that kind of stuff. And you go in, you say as once we get away from that and you realize, are there special guys clothes, we’ll of course not because a sailor is a sailor.

Russ – 40:09 – Right. And if you think about even the modern navy today, you have people in their full dress uniform and they have a working uniform dungarees and the blue shirts, when they go ashore, they put on a nice clothes. Pirates, are they all walking around in their nice clothes all the time? I don’t know. But I would think most pirates would say is let’s save that for when we go into town and you know, put a nose full on. So at any rate, that was okay. So that’s my answer about archaeologists being pirates and you know what? It’s a good thing.

John – 40:43 – Alright. Well I don’t really want to thank you for doing this. I think the audience is going to get a lot out of it. And I will put links to your book, your, both of your books in the show notes when this comes out. So there’s good. It’s good to plug your books. And I’ll just finish this up with the last thing. Is there anything that I didn’t ask you that I should have asked you?

Russ – 41:05 – Not that you should have asked, but I often say this, students will ask me. They’ll say, well, they’re, here’s the site and look their coins. They’re from Spain and from France and from Britain. That must be evidence that they were stealing from all these different countries. And I point out to students is that, well, those coins were all made out of silver and gold and it did not matter whose picture was on the front of the coins. What mattered was what they were made of. And so, until 1855 coins minted and Mexico were legal tender in the United States. And I can guarantee you this from having lived in Michigan and now on the Mexican border, there are times when I will get Mexican coins in my change. And God knows when I lived in Michigan, I would get Canadian quarters with a Caribou on it. That’s not elicit activity except someone tried to use it in a washing machine. It wouldn’t work.

John – 42:10 – We’d get those as far down as…

Russ – 42:11 1 – Bottomline was the value. So you know, just people should remember. We all want them to be sexy and romantic, but sometimes you got to go below the surface and they really can be. Thanks for inviting me.

John – 42:26 – Thank you very much. Let’s cut it off there and I just want to say I really appreciate it.

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