Analysis of remains from Cape shipwreck shows pirate had treasure in his pocket

WEST YARMOUTH, Mass. (WHDH) — It may not have belonged to legendary pirate Samuel “Black Sam” Bellamy, but a recent analysis of a bone fragment recovered from a 1717 pirate shipwreck revealed some interesting information about the sailor who died in the waters off Cape Cod hundreds of years ago — with what appeared to be treasure in his pocket.

In a report released Thursday, the investigative team from the Whydah Pirate Museum, in conjunction with forensic scientists from the Henry C. Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences at the University of New Haven, announced that the Whydah Galley Pirate has been identified as a man with general ties to the Eastern Mediterranean area.

In addition to the DNA analysis, new X-rays and thermo-imaging of the bone fragment, which was removed from a large concretion at the museum in February, also revealed more of the pirate’s skeleton, showing he was partially clothed, and believed to be carrying what appears to be treasure in his pocket.

The analysis revealed that the bone doesn’t belong to Bellamy, captain of the ill-fated ship.

“We haven’t found “Black Sam” Bellamy yet, but phase one of our investigation has yielded significant results,” said Casey Sherman, leader of the Whydah investigative team. “We now have Bellamy’s DNA to test against future discoveries and we have shed new light on the only remains of an 18th-century pirate discovered in North America. Whydah archeologists will continue to examine the large concretion we now refer to as the Tomb of the Lost Pirate, while Whydah divers search for more remains in the shipwreck itself.”

Barry Clifford, who discovered the Whydah Galley in 1984, said the dive site “is hallowed ground for us.”

“It’s not only the site of a shipwreck, but it’s a burial ground for Captain “Black Sam” Bellamy and members of his crew,” Clifford said in a statement. “We know a third of the crew was of African origin and the fact they had robbed the Whydah, which was a slave ship, presents them in a whole new light. Bellamy and crew were experimenting in democracy long before the so-called civilized societies had considered such a thing. We will continue to handle this investigation with sensitivity and respect while understanding the full historical significance of what we are doing.”

Clifford and his team will continue their search of the Whydah shipwreck in the coming weeks.

The concretion holding the remains of the Whydah pirate is now on display at the Whydah Pirate Museum on Cape Cod.

The Whydah Galley, loaded with the treasures from 54 seized ships, sank during a nor’easter off Wellfleet in April 1717, killing Bellamy and members of his crew. Clifford and his diving crew have recovered millions of dollars worth of gold and silver of the estimated $120 million buried treasure along with 60 cannons and thousands of rare artifacts from the site.

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