The Pirates have fascinated and frightened for centuries. From toys to movies, pirates are familiar parts of popular culture. Paradoxically, scientific work on them has long been scarce because it was considered of little interest. The recent publication of scientific books and the latest archaeological excavations provide a better understanding of the historical reality of piracy. The latest issue of Dossiers d´Archéologie provides an update on this subject with the help of the most recent discoveries and work.
Far from myths
Philippe Hrodej, author of the Dictionary of privateers and pirates presented on this site, offers an introduction to an article which sweeps away a certain number of received ideas about pirates and which places them in their context: the differences between pirates and navy sailors military or merchant in modern times are less important than it seems, which complicates archaeological research on the subject. The various contributions in this issue pose the problem of the specificity and identification of a "pirate culture": indeed, if the context, the written sources and the archaeological material (such as the assembly of various elements by their origin and their functionality) allow to advance the presence of a pirate ship, the hypothesis remains debated.
Besides an article presenting the recent history and the specifics of archeology linked to piracy, others cover many aspects of the subject, such as daily life, everyday objects, firearms, punishment and justice. ; so many elements that strongly qualify or even destroy certain prejudices. Jean Soulat sets up a gallery of the lives of pirates who, for some, have left archaeological traces mentioned in this archeology file. Philippe Migaud deals with the presence of exotic animals. These were mainly used as food or as salable goods to a European clientele in search of exoticism. Of course, the issue gives pride of place to the wrecks discovered such as the Speaker taken by John Bowen on April 16, 1700 and beached on January 7, 1702, the corsair wrecks of the Natière or the wreck recently discovered on the west coast of the Île Sainte-Marie and which could be the Fiery Dragon, ship of the pirate William Condon sunk in February 1721. Articles deal with archaeological sites on land filibuster, in particular the island of Saint-Martin, the island of the Tortoise and Port -de-Paix in Haiti and Sainte Marie Island in Madagascar.
This dossier is a successful synthesis of the archeology of pirates. The rich iconography, always of very good quality, embellishes and enriches the reading. The end of the Dossiers d'Archéologie is, as usual, devoted to various news. An article deals with the law on the restoration of Notre-Dame. Glaciers can reveal old pollutions like those of Mont-Blanc, as recent research by the CNRS reveals. Finally, the exhibition "Playful. Playing in Antiquity "from the Lugdunum museum in Lyon is presented. A good synthetic and accessible number of the Dossiers d'Archéologie.
Discovering pirates. Arcgeology files n ° 394, summer 2019. On newsstands and by subscription.