Yes, they had to yank eyeballs from sockets and beating hearts from chests, but pirates had voting rights and were compensated for injury. (Nat Geo News)
Check out our collection on historic and contemporary pirates and piracy.
Teachers, scroll down for a quick list of key resources in our Teachers’ Toolkit, and a round-up of other interesting reads this week—from the Tour de France to Greek austerity to Rwandan refugees.
- According to Nat Geo News, “plenty of shipwrecks are found every year.” Why are pirate shipwrecks so rare?
- They’re probably not. A lot of discovered and undiscovered wrecks may be pirate ships, but pirates were outlaws and didn’t really identify their vessels as pirate ships. As Robert Kurson, author of Pirate Hunters: Treasure, Obsession and the Search for a Legendary Pirate Ship, says in the article, “pirates were about stealth. They were about being invisible. They were outlaws and belonged to no country, so they never filed crew lists or paperwork. If they sank or got captured, no government or navy went looking for them. Many pirate ships were also converted merchant ships, so if someone happened to find a wreck later on, it would be very difficult to identify it as a pirate ship. You might find cannons, muskets or coins, but those were being traded by any number of merchant ships. Proving a wreck is a pirate ship is virtually impossible.”
- Why does pirate expert Robert Kurson say pirate ships were “democratic”?
- On pirate ships (unlike military vessels), “captains took a vote on everything: where to go, who to steal from, how to steal it, where to go next, what to do with prisoners. The captain’s vote didn’t count any more than the lowliest deck hand’s.” Pirate crews could even vote out their captain.
- Pirates had a constitution and even compensation schemes for injuries. The captain almost never earned more than two or three times the wage of the lowliest deck hand.
- Treasure hunters describe their search as “mowing the lawn.” What is the “lawn”? What do they use as a mower?
- The “lawn” is the seafloor.
- The “mower” is a magnetometer, which locates iron-rich objects such as anchors, coins, and navigation instruments.
Nat Geo: When Not Treasure Hunting, Pirates Practiced Democracy article
Nat Geo: Pirates and Piracy collection
Nat Geo: Find the Sunken Treasure game
THIS WEEK AROUND NAT GEO
- 102 Years of Tour de France. Fantastic graphic! Every rider, every race.
- NASA Photos Show China’s Plan to Meet New UN Climate Pledge
- Teaching Refugee Children to Capture Their World
- Why Do the Littlest Birds Have the Prettiest Songs?
- 3 Years and 6,000 Miles on the Trail of Genghis Khan
THIS WEEK AROUND THE WEB
- A Primer on the Greek Crisis: the things you need to know from the start until now. Just what it says.
- The Real Landscapes of the Great Flood Myths. I love stuff like this.
- Everything is Yours. Everything is not Yours. Spectacular. The writer escapes the Rwandan genocide as a child, criss-crosses Africa as a refugee, gains asylum in America, wins a scholarship to Yale, meets her long-lost parents on the Oprah Winfrey show, remains wry throughout. “A few people ask if I feel guilty for surviving. Uh, no.”
- Forbes Celebrity 100. Floyd Mayweather tops the list of the top-earning celebs of the year.
- Thomas Jefferson Built this Country on Mastodons. A European scientist published a paper on the “Theory of American Degeneracy.” He “couldn’t have come up with a better way to pi$$ off Jefferson if he had tried.”
- Decoding the Remarkable Algorithms of Ants. The ant-ernet may influence the design of the Internet.
- The Art of Tour Guiding. When you’re driving a bus full of tourists through the Australian outback, a packet of chewing gum may be your only hope.
- Panthers on the Rebound in Florida. That rare conservation success story.
- Harvesting Bones at Waterloo. Only one skeleton has ever been discovered on the battlefield. “The farmers of Yorkshire were probably enjoying bumper crops with the very bones of their own sons.”
- American Ballet Theater Adds its first African American Principal Ballerina. Click the link to see her in action.
5 thoughts on “Democratic Duels?”