X Marks the Spot:
The Archaeology of Piracy

Edited by Russell K. Skowronek and Charles R. Ewen

Foreword by James C. Bradford and Gene A. Smith, Series Editors

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"The reader unused to digesting professional publications will, pardon the pun, sail through this book as if it were a collection of novellas! Not only will he/she learn about the realities of trade in the Caribbean and politics in the time of pirates, but will be treated to the most interesting bits of ephemera such as an inventory of the legendary Captain Morgan's estate. This is the definitive book on Pirates and the research being done to dispel all of the fables."--Dirtbrothers.org

"Articles in X Marks the Spot cover a wide range of pirate wrecks and legacies from the Golden Age of Piracy, and give the reader a glimpse into what might be the reality of pirate life and death."--Archaeology.about.com

"A serious attempt to determine, through examination of both terrestrial and shipwreck sites, if pirates left such unambiguous traces in the archaeological record that their presence can be recognized in future excavations. Fascinating!"--George F. Bass, founder, Institute of Nautical Archaeology

"Piracy occupies an adaptive niche dating back to the very beginnings of maritime enterprise. This volume reclaims that predacious profession from the realm of the unusual and the unique and presents it afresh as a persistent subsystem of normal commerce."--Thomas N. Layton, San Jose State University

"Piracy is one of the world's oldest professions on the water. In this volume, a group of leading scholars literally digs into the subject to offer the first comprehensive archaeological look at pirates. . . . The definitive book on the archaeology of piracy."--James P. Delgado, executive director, Vancouver Maritime Museum

"A most welcome contribution on the subject of piracy, one that has rarely been systematically addressed by archaeologists."--Barto Arnold, Institute of Nautical Archaeology, Texas A&M University


This collection piques the imagination with historical evidence about the actual exploits of pirates as revealed in the archaeological record. The recent discovery of the wreck of Blackbeard's Queen Anne's Revenge, off Beaufort Inlet, North Carolina, has provoked scientists to ask, What is a pirate? Were pirates sea-going terrorists, lawless rogues who plundered, smuggled, and illegally transported slaves, or legitimate corsairs and privateers? Highlighting such pirate vessels as the Speaker, which sailed in the Indian Ocean, and the Whydah, the first pirate ship discovered in North America (near the tip of Cape Cod), the contributors analyze what constitutes a pirate ship and how it is different from a contemporary merchant or naval vessel.


Examining excavated underwater "treasure sites" and terrestrial pirate lairs found off the coast of Madagascar, throughout the Caribbean, and within the United States, the authors explore the romanticized "Golden Age of Piracy," a period brimming with the real-life exploits of Captain Kidd, Blackbeard, Henry Morgan, and the "gentleman pirate" Jean Lafitte. This book will appeal to the general public, with special interest to anthropologists, archaeologists, historians, and divers.

Russell K. Skowronek is associate professor of anthropology and founder of the Archaeology Research Lab at Santa Clara University.

Charles R. Ewen is professor of anthropology and director of the Archaeology Laboratories at East Carolina University.

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"Together, the articles in X Marks the Spot cover a wide range of pirate wrecks and legacies from the Golden Age of Piracy, and give the reader a glimpse into what might be the reality of pirate life and death."
--archaeology.about.com

"X Marks the Spot is a collection of serious research publications which eliminates some of the stereotypes and seeks the more nagging questions about pirates and pirate lore. The reader unused to digesting professional publications will, pardon the pun, sail through this book as if it were a collection of novellas! Not only will he/she learn about the realities of trade in the Caribbean and politics in the time of pirates, but will be treated to the most interesting bits of ephemera such as an inventory of the legendary Captain Morgan's estate. This is the definitive book on Pirates and the research being done to dispel all of the fables, thus painting a truer picture of these most interesting historical figures."
--dirtbrothers.org

"A most interesting book, and for the most part the essays make fascinating reading. It's a look at piracy from a perspective rarely seen, and the conclusions the archaeologists have drawn are intriguing. . . A worth addition to any serious pirate's collection."
--Pirates and Privateers

"The first comprehensive, scholarly look at the artifactual evidence of real pirates, recovered at both shipwrecks and known pirate bases. . . If X Marks the Spot and its contributors are any indication, more and more archaeologists are realizing that the swashbuckling figure they imitated at Halloween and watched in movies as a child can be an object of serious study."
--Archaeology

" X Marks the Spot is one of those books we've all been waiting for: pretty well everyone is interested in pirates, and a book on the archaeological "reality" of the pirate "myth" is long overdue . . . Does X Marks the Spot hit the spot? I'm happy to say that it does . . .Ewen and Skowronek also do a superlative job editing the book, and their introductory and concluding essays are well worth reading on their own . . . If only all books on maritime archaeology were this well-written and edited!"
--Nautical Research Journal

Alas, in this book we find no treasure maps, no trunks of doubloons and jewelry, and no ghosts, but we do have a wealth of wonderful maritime archeology.
--H-Maritime

...interesting...valuable because it opens a dialogue on one of maritime archeology's most intriguing and poorly understood aspects.
--Institute of Nautical Archeology Quarterly

…a must-have for any archaeologist interested in the most current thinking about pirate identity and patterns in "seeing" pirates in the archaeological record.
--Southeastern Archaeology

Highly recommended.
--Choice

…the first cogent examination of the subject.
--J of Middle Atlantic Archaeology

For those interested in pirates or maritime archaeology, this volume of essays would be indispensable.
--The North Carolina Historical Review

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