Ahoy, my fellow landlubbers! As many of you are well aware, pirates have been massively popularized in literature and cinema. After all, who hasn't read or heard of Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island? And who hasn't cackled or guffawed at Captain Jack Sparrow's swashbuckling antics in Pirates of the Caribbean?
However, my dear friends, it is my unfortunate duty to inform you that you have been slightly misled. For the most part, pirates weren't the hotheaded hooligans they have been made out to be. In reality, they were hardened mariners striving to survive on the high seas. They relied on rules and order. They utilized democracy and science. They even had workers' comp!
Without further ado, here are five things you may have not known about pirates:
1. No Buried Treasure. Extensive research by University of Pittsburgh Professor Marcus Rediker has debunked this common belief. Pirates rarely buried their treasure, partly because they didn't see the point of saving or hiding their riches, but mostly because the type of loot they took on -- usually food, trading goods, clothes, etc. -- was either perishable or served absolutely no purpose buried in a treasure chest.
For the most part, pirates actually traded their stolen goods in the New World. In fact, this trade infusion may have greatly boosted the local economies of large seaports and struggling settlements in the Americas.
2. Pirates Were Astronomers. Or at least the navigators were. For pirates plundering in the 15th through the 18th centuries, celestial navigation using astrolabes or sextants was the prime method of navigation at sea. In order to calculate position and course heading, pirates had to recognize several celestial bodies, such as the sun, moon, and certain stars, including Polaris, Rigel, and Procyon.
"...for the loss of a right arm six hundred pieces ofOne thing you may have noticed: lefties got a rotten deal!
eight; for the loss of a left arm five hundred pieces of
eight; for a right leg five hundred pieces of eight; for the left leg four hundred pieces of eight for an eye one hundred pieces of eight; for a
finger of the hand the same reward as for the eye."