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Ancient gold coins may solve the mysterious actions of pirates in the 1600s



WARWICK, Rhode Island (Associated Press)-A handful of coins excavated from orchards in rural Rhode Island and other random corners of New England may help solve one of the oldest cold cases on the planet.

The villain in this story: a murderous British pirate who robbed a ship from Mecca to transport Muslim pilgrims back to India, became the most wanted criminal in the world, and was arrested as a slave trader.

Amateur historian and metal detective Jim Bailey said: “This is a new history of near-perfect crime,” and he found the first complete 1

7th-century Arabian coin on the grass in Middletown.

That old change-this is the oldest change ever made in North America-can explain how the pirate Captain Henry Epte disappeared in the wind.

On September 7, 1695, the pirate Fancy commanded by Every ambushed and captured Ganj-i-Sawai, a royal ship owned by the Indian emperor Olamzeb, one of the most powerful people in the world at that time. There are not only pilgrims returning to the pilgrimage road, but also gold and silver worth tens of millions of dollars.

What followed was one of the most profitable and heinous robberies in history.

Historical records say that his band tortured and killed these men and raped these women on Indian ships before escaping to the pirate refuge in the Bahamas. However, news about their crimes spread quickly, and under tremendous pressure from the scandal-stricken Indian and East India Company trading giants, King William III of England gave them a big reward.

Bailey said: “If you do the “first global search” on Google, everything will come up. “Everyone is looking for these guys. “

Until now, historians did not know that everyone eventually sailed to Ireland in 1696, where the trails became very cold. But Bailey said that the coins he and others found proved that the notorious pirate first entered the American colony, where he and his crew used loot to pay for daily expenses while running.

The first complete coin surfaced at Sweet Berry Farm in Middletown in 2014. Two years ago, after he discovered the old colonial coin, an 18th century shoe buckle and some rifles, it aroused Bailey’s curiosity. .

He waved a metal detector on the soil, got a signal, dug out and hit the literal dirt: he initially thought it was a dark, dime-sized silver coin, either Spanish coin or Massachusetts Bay Money minted by the colony.

Staring at the coin, the Arabic words made his heart beat faster. “I thought,’Oh my God,'” he said.

Studies have confirmed that this strange coin was minted in Yemen in 1693. Bailey said this immediately aroused people’s doubts because there is no evidence that American colonists struggled to survive in the new world and did not go to trade anywhere in the Middle East until decades later.

Since then, other detectives have unearthed 15 Arab coins from the same period-10 in Massachusetts, 3 in Rhode Island, and 2 in Connecticut. The other was found in North Carolina, where records show that some of everyone was initially ashore.

“It seems that some of his staff are able to settle and integrate into life in New England,” said Sarah Spotman, a state archaeologist in Connecticut. One was found in an ongoing excavation of a 17th-century farm site in 2018. coin.

She said: “It’s almost like a money laundering plan.”

Although it sounds unbelievable now, everyone can pretend to be a slave trader to hide in sight. Slave trader was a new profession in New England in the 1690s. Bailey said that on the way to the Bahamas, he even stopped on the French island of Reunion to kidnap some black captives, so he would look for some.

Obscure records show that a ship named “Sea Flower” was used after the pirates abandoned “Fantasy” and sailed along the eastern coast.It arrived in Newport, Rhode Island with nearly four dozen slaves in 1696 and became the main hub of the North American slave trade. In the 18th century.

Bailey, 53, said: “There is a lot of raw material that shows that American colonies are the base for piracy.” Bailey has a degree in anthropology from the University of Rhode Island, and served as an archaeological assistant in the exploration of the Wydah Gally Corsair Cape Cod was destroyed in the late 1980s.

Bailey’s daily job is to analyze the security of the state prison complex, and his findings are published in the research journal of the American Numismatic Society, which is dedicated to studying coins and medals.

Archaeologists and historians who are familiar with but not involved in Bailey’s work say they are interested in it and believe it provides a new light on one of the world’s most enduring criminal mysteries.

“Jim’s research is impeccable,” said Kevin McBride, a professor of archaeology at the University of Connecticut. “It’s very cool. This is indeed a very interesting story.”

Mark Hanna, associate professor of history at the University of California, San Diego and an expert on early American piracy, said that when he first saw the picture of the Bailey coin, “I was lost.”

“For me, finding these coins is a big deal,” said Hannah, author of “The Pirate Lair and the Rise of the British Empire” published in 2015. “Captain’s story. Everything has global significance. This important thing-this little thing-can help me explain it.”

Everyone’s deeds inspired Steven Johnson’s book “Enemies of All Mankind” published in 2020; PlayStation’s popular “Unknown” series of video games; and a series by Tom Holland, Mark The Sony movie “Uncharted” starring Wahlberg and Antonio Banderas is scheduled to be released in early 2022.

Pauli hid his most valuable discoveries at home instead of in a safe deposit box, and he said he would continue to dig.

He said: “For me, this has always been the pleasure of hunting, not money.” “The only thing better than finding these objects is the long-lost story behind them.”


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