The jolly good life of a pirate was not a jolly healthy one, what with syphilis and scurvy and ship-raiding. Archeologists excavating Blackbeard's flagship off the coast of North Carolina in the US have unveiled their latest findings: a cache of medical instruments that include this rather horrifying urethral syringe.
The Queen Anne's Revenge sank near North Carolina in 1718, after a brief but storied career raiding merchant ships from Africa to the Caribbean. Blackbeard escaped with his life — only to die a few months later in combat. (Such is the pirate life.) In 1996, archeologists found the shipwreck and have been slowly uncovering its secrets ever since.
Owen Jarus of LiveScience talked to archeologist Linda Carnes-McNaughton, who recently presented a paper about Blackbeard's medical cache at the US Society for Historical Archaeology annual meeting. When Blackbeard first captured Queen Anne's Revenge, he forced its three French surgeons to stay. Many of the medical instruments bear marks of French manufacturing.
Here are some of the most fascinating finds — you can see more at LiveScience.
A clyster pump used to pump liquid into the rectum, where it can be absorbed.
A syringe used to inject mercury into the urethra to treat syphilis. As one Gizmodo staffer put it, "a great way to scare people away from syphilis."
Needle used in surgery.
Nesting weights used to prepare medicine.
X-ray of scissors likely used in surgery.
Image credits: North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources via LiveScience