50kg Silver Bar Found in Madagascar may be Treasure of Notorious Pirate Captain Kidd

50kg Silver Bar Found in Madagascar may be Treasure of Notorious Pirate Captain Kidd

Underwater explorers in Madagascar have made an incredible discovery – a 50 kg block of silver with inscriptions, which is now under armed guard on Sainte Marie island off the east coast of Madagascar. The valuable treasure may be from the wreckage of a pirate ship belonging to notorious Scottish pirate William Kidd.

The Guardian reports that the silver bar was found in shallow waters off Sainte Marie island by a joint UK-US archaeological mission led by Barry Clifford, an underwater investigator who discovered the remains of William Kidd’s ship Adventure Galley in 2000.

The bar is imprinted with a ‘T’ and ‘S’ on one side and letters and numbers on the other, the meaning of which is currently unknown.

The 50kg silver bar found off the coast of Madagascar. Credite: Presidence de la Republique de Madagascar.

Clifford is convinced that the treasure came from the wreck of Captain William Kidd’s ship.

Captain William Kidd (1645 –1701) was a Scottish sailor who was tried and executed for piracy after returning from a voyage to the Indian Ocean. He is typically perceived as either one of the most notorious pirates in history, or as one of its most unjustly vilified and prosecuted privateers. The latter view comes from the fact that his actions were allegedly less destructive and less lucrative than other pirates, yet he met a rather brutal end – he was hanged twice (the first attempt failed), before being covered in tar and hung from a gibbet over the river Thames.

Captain Kidd hanging from a gibbet over the River Thames ( Wikimedia Commons )

“The son of a Presbyterian minister, Kidd was a buccaneer and a captain for a private British ship in the Caribbean for some years, but it is claimed he decided that he found piracy more rewarding after he was commissioned to sail to Madagascar on the Adventure Galley,” reports The Guardian. “His most famous capture was a 400-tonne ship, the Quedah Merchant, which carried silver as well as silk, gold, sugar, opium and cloth.”

‘Captain Kidd in New York Harbor’ by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris, 1863–1930 ( Wikimedia Commons )

When Captain Kidd learned that he was a wanted pirate, he deposited some of his treasure on Gardiners Island, hoping to use his knowledge of its location as a bargaining tool. A small cache of Kidd’s treasure was eventually recovered from Gardiners Island in a spot known as Cherry Tree Field, however it was sent to England to be used as evidence against him.

Kidd was captured in Boston in 1699 and sent to Newgate prison. The treasure found on his ship was valued at £30,000 (around £10 million today), but the remainder of his treasure was never found. The belief that Kidd had left buried treasure contributed considerably to the growth of his legend and has also given impetus to constant treasure hunts in places Kidd is known to have visited.

Illustration of pirate captain William Kidd's supervision of the burial of his treasure at Gardiner's Island ( Wikimedia Commons )

The BBC reports that “there is much excitement in Madagascar about the discovery and Mr Clifford's team has no doubt that the discovery is genuine.”

The silver bar, which was presented to the President of Madagascar in a special ceremony on Sainte Marie Island, is believed to have its origins in Bolivia, while the ship is thought to have been built in England. Work will now be carried out to verify the origin of the treasure.

Featured image: 50kg silver bar found off the coast of Madagascar, which is thought to belong to Captain Kidd. Credit: Presidence de la Republique de Madagascar.


The Many Deaths of Captain Kidd

Our fascination with pirates and the search for buried treasure continues to make headlines.

News broke on May 7th, 2015 that the long-lost treasure of the notorious pirate, Captain William Kidd, had been found off the coast of Madagascar in the form of a silver bar.

This is not the first time someone has claimed to find Kidd's lost treasure, or at least evidence of it. One of the most famous cases was the discovery of a map known as the Kidd-Palmer Charts, which pinpointed the location of Kidd's treasure in the South China Seas the fervour it provoked even sparked the financing of a major expedition in the 1950s, which fell through when the map was shown to be a hoax. As of the writing of this article, it seems possible that the discovered treasure and the accompanying shipwreck are Kidd's, based on what we know of his travels before his arrest in New York City in 1698. However, there has not yet been any forensic or archaeological confirmation of Kidd's ship, the Adventure Galley, so the legitimacy of this claim remains to be seen.

Why has Captain Kidd remained in our memory for so long? Much mystery surrounds his life and legacy. Kidd is known in history and popular culture as a notorious pirate, but many historians argue that his reputation was unjustified. He was known to have letters of marque, which sanctioned him to rob enemy ships, but he did not have them at the time of his capture. The timing of Kidd's capture was unfortunate, as he was imprisoned only four years after the disappearance of the pirate Henry Avery, whose actions created considerable embarrassment for the East India Company. Avery's piracy in the East Indies enraged Indian moguls and they threatened to close off all trade if the British did not put a stop to it. When Kidd's actions further angered chief traders, the British had to make an example to appease them and Kidd was an easy target. When Kidd realised he was wanted for piracy, he sailed to New York for protection but his main financier, Richard Coote, 1st Earl of Bellomont, betrayed him, luring him to Boston, where he was thrown in jail for two years before his transportation back to England.

Throughout his trial, Kidd maintained his innocence. When he was asked if he had any final words he said: 'I have nothing to say except that I have been sworn against by perjured and wicked people.' Kidd was hanged at Execution Dock in Wapping, where his body remained strung up in the gibbets for three years to serve as a warning to other would-be pirates.

Throughout his trial, rumours of Kidd's treasure circulated in official letters and newspapers. Reports in the Calendar of State Papers detailed the goods belonging to Kidd's ship, including 60 pounds of solid gold and silver ingots, but the whereabouts of these treasures could not be determined. When word of them got out, newspapers began to print rumours of Kidd's lost treasure.

Kidd's life quickly turned into legend after his death. The drama of his execution remained in circulation for many years to come and other pirates continued to reference his death, virtually making Kidd a martyr. In 1720 the Weekly Journal reported a pirate attack led by Captain Thomas Roberts, stating that the pirates stripped the passengers and sailors of their money and effects and stole the ship's artillery and gunpowder. All the while they were reported to be 'cursing, swearing, damning, and blaspheming, to the greatest Degree imaginable'. The pirates paid no heed to what would be the eventual consequences of their actions and declared that they would not be strung up in the gibbets like Kidd and, if they were caught, 'they would immediately put Fire with one of their Pistols to their Powder, and all go merrily to Hell together'.

The tale of Kidd's notorious crimes continued to make its way into popular papers and magazines into the 20th century. Fifty years after his death the Penny London Post published an entire spread detailing his life and condemnation. In addition to this his life story had been made widely available via his public execution, the account of his trial (which sold so many copies it had to be reprinted) and the publication of Captain Johnson's A General History of the Pyrates (1724). Newspaper articles in the late 19th century even played devil's advocate, suggesting Kidd's innocence in an article called 'The Virtuous Captain Kidd', which analysed the possibility that Kidd was made an unfortunate scapegoat by the East India Company to 'avoid foreign embroglios'.

With what may be the discovery of his lost treasure, Kidd has yet again resurfaced in our memory. Physical evidence has not yet been presented, so whether or not the silver ingots found off the coast of Madagascar are actually Kidd's remains to be seen. But the discovery of this loot proves that real pirates who were condemned and executed over 300 years ago are as interesting today as they have ever been.

Rebecca Simon is a PhD student in History at King's College London researching pirate executions.


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“If it is the Adventure, anything that was in the ship when it sank would have been there because Captain Kidd put it there,” the curator said. “Whatever is there it should be carefully excavated with full archaeological procedure.”

Barry Clifford, an underwater explorer, led the search team and suggested the evidence pointed to Kidd's treasure. In addition to the dating of the silver, wood retrieved from the ship is thought to have come from England. Eight years ago Mr Clifford headed a team that found a large part of what is thought to have been the Adventure's wreck in nearby waters. That site included Ming porcelain, a metal oarlock and rum bottles dating back three centuries.

Kidd was a privateer - backed by the government to attack ships flying under enemy banners, particularly the French - and between 1696 and 1698 he became the terror of the high seas during the so-called “golden age of piracy”.

He had recruited 90 men in New York and headed for Madagascar with the commission to hunt down pirates and attack French commerce.

After a series of skirmishes in which he captured six ships, only two French, he was eventually forced to abandon the Adventure off the coast of Saint-Marie. Dr Van der Merwe said: “Madagascar was a place the pirates hung out, and it was at this time he really took to piracy completely.”

After capturing the Quedagh Merchant ship, Kidd's allies in England turned against him. He set sail for Boston where he was captured, brought to London and executed in 1701 at the age of 55. His body was put on public display as a warning against piracy.

Kidd and fellow pirates from the golden age have long sparked the imagination of treasure hunters following the legends that he had hidden much of his riches around the world. Kidd's treasure was said to be worth as much as £400 000.

“It's like chasing the Loch Ness monster. Pirate treasure is a thing for romantics, fantasists and crooks,” Dr Van der Merwe said. “Nobody has found a hoard of pirate treasure on a map marked with a black spot for the good reason that most pirate operations were pretty marginal.”


Famed explorer says he found the elusive ‘treasure’ ship of Captain Kidd. Not so fast.

Famed explorer Barry Clifford believes — once again — that he has finally found the elusive Adventure Galley, the crown jewel of famed pirate Captain William Kidd’s exploits in the Indian Ocean in the 1600s.

On Thursday, in an elaborate public ceremony, Clifford emerged from the cloudy waters off the coast of Madagascar with a 110-pound silver bar he believes is from Captain Kidd’s ship Adventure Galley.

“After 15 years of research and expeditions to Madagascar, I have made an incredible discovery,” Clifford told the History channel, which was on hand to record the find. “While investigating the shipwreck I believe to be Captain Kidd’s Adventure Galley I uncovered a giant silver bar. All the evidence points to it being part of Captain Kidd’s treasure. It’s a huge find for my team but an even bigger find for Madagascar and world history.”

The only problem: It might not be from Kidd’s ship.

“If there was only one ship that had been sunk in that harbor I’d be much more confident that it related to Captain Kidd. But a number of ships had sunk there,” said Robert Ritchie, a historian and author of “Captain Kidd and the War against the Pirate.” “I’m doubtful, but who knows? It could well be from the Adventure Galley. But it would be from one of Kidd’s men more than from Kidd himself.”

This wouldn’t be the first time that Clifford thought he had found the ship. In 2000, when Clifford first discovered the site, he announced that after years of searching, his team had practically stumbled upon the wreckage.


Every, Tew, Misson, and Libertalia

One of the odder features of Capt. Charles Johnson’s A General History of the Robberies and Murders of the Most Notorious Pyrates is that when it was expanded to two volumes in 1728, Johnson (whoever he was) included a chapter on what appears to be an entirely fictional pirate, Captain Misson. Even more confusing, Johnson has Capt. Misson meet with the real pirate, Thomas Tew, whom you might remember from class sailed with Henry Every on his last voyage. And to complicate matters further, Misson’s story contains internal references dating it to 1707, yet Tew died in 1695! What’s going on here?

Strange though it may seem, Johnson is actually working within an established story telling tradition, that of the fanciful utopia. Medieval peasants had their Cockaigne, a land not of hardship but plenty, with peasants in charge instead of nobility, and freedom from sexual restrictions. It was the normal world turned topsy-turvy.

An unflattering view of Cockaigne, emphasizing those well-known pirate virtues of sloth and gluttony

The discovery of the New World was a shock to Europeans. They thought they had known everything! However, once reports began trickling back from the New World, Europeans were intrigued by how different society was there. To them, it seemed that the Native Americans lived in a paradise, quite different from Europe. And so, combining elements of the New World and Cockaigne, European writers began developing stories about imaginary realms in far-off places where the normal (European) social order was inverted. Probably the best-known examples are the fanciful realms of Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels (1726) and the isolated native kingdom visited by Candide in Voltaire’s 1759 eponymous story.

Every living like a prince in Madagascar

This is the purpose of Johnson’s chapter on the fictional Captain Misson. Johnson drew on the legends about Henry Every’s mythical Madagascar kingdom, and the reports he had about how the pirates treated each other as equals, to have Misson found a fanciful pirate utopia on Madagascar. This colony of Libertalia is governed by reason and kindness. It has no religion, because a priest has converted all the pirates to skepticism. Misson and his followers recognize no authority other than their own, accepting no king, though they vote to make Misson their leader for a time. Johnson makes Libertalia sound like paradise, a paradise that criticizes European society by inverting its rules.

Although it’s a fiction, Johnson tried to anchor Libertalia in reality by providing many plausible details about the life of Captain Misson and his career in the French Navy before he becomes a champion of liberty. And that is no doubt why he connected Misson to Tew. Tew was a known historical figure. If Tew interacted with Misson, Misson had to be real, too!

Paradise may not last, but it can sure be fun. It has to be said in Johnson’s favor that the pirates and natives treat each other as equals.

Yet the pirate utopia on Madagascar was a pipe dream, nothing more. Johnson has Misson die, and Libertalia fail, as his way of ending the fantasy. And in reality, when Captain Woodes Rogers (of whom we shall hear more) visited Madagascar in 1714, he found that the pirates there were a few wretched survivors, living at the sufferance of the native chiefs.


Who was Captain Kidd?

Born William Kidd in Dundee, Scotland, he followed in his father's footsteps as a seaman.

Kidd became a respected privateer, commissioned to protect English ships in the Carribean in the war against France.

Captain Kidd was hired to pirate the Quedagh Merchant, a 500-ton Armenian ship, a treasure trove of gold, silk, spices and other riches.

He was caught and shipped back to England for trial, where his connections with the English elite and government officials caused a sensation.

After his execution, as a warning to other pirates, his body was hung in a cage and left to rot for all to see along the River Thames.


About Swami Chinmayananda

He was born as Balakrishna Menon on 8 May 1916. He was known for teaching Bhagavad gita, the Upanishads, and other ancient Hindu scriptures. Since 1951, he had spearheaded a global Hindu spiritual and cultural renaissance that popularised the religion’s esoteric scriptural texts and also taught them in English all across India and abroad. He had authored around 95 publications that mostly include commentaries on the major Upanishads and Bhagavad gita. He was also a visiting professor of Indian philosophy at several American and Asian universities. He also had conducted university lecture tours in many countries. He died on 3 August 1993 at age 77 in San Diego, California of United States.


50kg Silver Bar Found in Madagascar may be Treasure of Notorious Pirate Captain Kidd - History

Freak waves also known as rogue waves, monster waves, episodic waves, killer waves, extreme waves, and abnormal waves are relatively large and spontaneous surface waves that occur far out in open water, and are a threat even to large ships and ocean liners.

In oceanography, rogue waves are more precisely defined as waves whose height is more than twice the significant wave height, which is itself defined as the mean of the largest third of waves in a wave record. Therefore, rogue waves are not necessarily the biggest waves found on the water they are, rather, unusually large waves for a given sea state. Rogue waves seem not to have a single distinct cause, but occur where physical factors such as high winds and strong currents cause waves to merge to create a single exceptionally large wave.

Few pictures of Freak waves. They are scary, no doubt:

My Alama Mater- St.Joseph's College, Colombo, Sri Lanka

St. Joseph's College is a Catholic educational institution in Colombo, Sri Lanka. It was established in 896 by French missionaries, with Rev Christophe-Etienne Bonjean playing a leading role. The college has over 4500 students with a staff of over 400. Distinguished former students include Cardinal Thomas Cooray the first Cardinal from Sri Lanka, and President Ranasinghe Premadasa. The motto of the college is "In Scientia et Virtute", meaning "In Knowledge and Virtue" in Latin.

Why are Ships called She?

"A ship is called a she because there is always a great deal of bustle around her there is usually a gang of men about she has a waist and stays it takes a lot of paint to keep her good-looking it is not the initial expense that breaks you, it is the upkeep she can be all decked out it takes an experienced man to handle her correctly and without a man at the helm, she is absolutely uncontrollable. She shows her topsides, hides her bottom and, when coming into port, always heads for the buoys.”

But seriously: why are ships and countries (and sometimes cars and other vessels and vehicles) often referred to with the feminine pronoun? Although the practice has been in steady decline for some time now, thanks no doubt to feminism and PC journalistic style guides it’s nevertheless been historically ingrained in nautical language and lore for many centuries. One prosaic explanation is that the gender of the Latin word for “ship” — Navis — is feminine. But people generally agree on the more romantic notion of the ‘ship as a she’ phenomenon: that it stems from the tradition of boat-owners, typically and historically male, naming their vessels after significant women in their lives — wives, sweethearts, mothers.

Similarly, and more broadly, ships were once dedicated to goddesses, and later also to mortal women of national or historic significance, thereby bestowing a benevolent feminine spirit on the vessels that would carry seafarers across treacherous oceans. Figureheads on the prows of ships were often depictions of such female namesakes, denoting the name of the ship for a largely illiterate maritime population. This practice dated from the early 18th century, before which superstition had it that the presence of women aboard sailing vessels — whether in human or representative form — was an omen of bad luck.

The practice of naming boats and ships after women continues today, although certainly not exclusively, as does the habit of feminizing our sailing vessels.

My Old Home Town - and little bit of its history


Tsunami - part 2 (SFGD)

The energy released produces tsunami waves.

Tsunami

Tsunami is originally from Japanese language meaning: "harbor wave". It is also known as a seismic sea wave, is a series of waves in a water body caused by the displacement of a large volume of water, generally in an ocean or a large lake . Earthquakes , volcanic eruptions and other underwater explosions including detonations of underwater nuclear devices, landslides, glacier calvings, meteorite impacts and other disturbances above or below water all have the potential to generate a tsunami. Unlike normal ocean waves which are generated by wind or tides, which are generated by the gravitational pull of the Moon and Sun, a tsunami is generated by the displacement of water.


Tsunami waves do not resemble normal sea waves, because their wavelength is far longer. Rather than appearing as a breaking wave, a tsunami may instead initially resemble a rapidly rising tide , and for this reason they are sometimes referred to as tidal waves, although this usage is not favored by the scientific community because tsunamis are not tidal in nature. Tsunamis generally consist of a series of waves with periods ranging from minutes to hours, arriving in a so-called "wave train". Wave heights of tens of meters can be generated by large events. Although the impact of tsunamis is limited to coastal areas, their destructive power can be enormous and they can affect entire ocean basins the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami was among the deadliest natural disasters in human history with at least 230,000 people killed or missing in 14 countries bordering the Indian Ocean.

Deepest Part of the Worlds's Oceans

The Mariana Trench or Marianas Trench is the deepest part of the world's oceans . It is located in the western Pacific Ocean , to the east of the Mariana Island . The trench is about 2,550 kilometres (1,580 mi) long but has an average width of only 69 kilometres (43 mi). It reaches a maximum-known depth of 10,994 m (± 40 m) or 6.831 mi (36,070 ± 131 ft) at the Challenger Deep , a small slot-shaped valley in its floor, at its southern end, although some unrepeated measurements place the deepest portion at 11.03 kilometres (6.85 mi).

At the bottom of the trench the water column a bove exerts a pressure of 1,086 bars (15,750 psi), over 1000 times the standard atmospheric pressure at sea level. At this pressure, the density of water is increased by 4.96%, making 95 litres of water under the pressure of the Challenger Deep contain the same mass as 100 litres at the surface. The temperature at the bottom is 1 to 4 °C.

The trench is not the part of the seafloor closest to the center of the Earth . This is because the Earth is not a perfect sphere its radius is about 25 kilometres (16 mi) less at the poles than at the equator.As a result, parts of the Arctic Ocean seabed are at least 13 kilometres (8.1 mi) closer to the Earth's center than the Challenger Deep seafloor.

Coriolis Force in relation to the movement of Topical Revolving Storms

Tropical Revolving Storms

Drakes Voyage to Coast of California: Nova Albion (1579)

The journey of Francis Drake up the Pacific Coast in 1579, artist's impression.

After looting the Cacafuego, Drake turned north, hoping to meet another Spanish treasure ship coming south on its return from Manila to Acapulco. Although he failed to find a treasure ship, Drake reputedly sailed as far north as the 38th parallel, landing on the coast of California on 17 June 1579. He found a good port, landed, repaired and restocked his vessels, then stayed for a time, keeping friendly relations with the Coast Miwok natives. He claimed the land in the name of the Holy Trinity for the English Crown, called Nova Albion—Latin for "New Britain". Assertions that he left some of his men behind as an embryo "colony" are founded on the reduced number who were with him in the Moluccas.

Drake's landing in California, engraving published 1590 by Theodor de Bry.

The precise location of the port was carefully guarded to keep it secret from the Spaniards, and several of Drake's maps may have been altered to this end. All first-hand records from the voyage, including logs, paintings and charts, were lost when Whitehall Palace burned in 1698. A bronze plaque inscribed with Drake's claim to the new lands – Drake's Plate of Brass – fitting the description in his account, was discovered in Marin County, California but was later declared a hoax. Now a National Historic Landmark, the officially recognized location of Drake's New Albion is Drakes Bay, California.

Ancient Navigators: Sir Francis Drake

Sir Francis Drake, Vice Admiral was an English sea captain, privateer, navigator, slaver, and politician of the Elizabethan era. Elizabeth I of England awarded Drake a knighthood in 1581. He was second-in-command of the English fleet against the Spanish Armada in 1588. He also carried out the second circumnavigation of the world, from 1577 to 1580.

At age 23, Drake made his first voyage to the New World, sailing with his second cousin, Sir John Hawkins, on one of a fleet of ships owned by his relatives, the Hawkins family of Plymouth. In 1568 Drake was again with the Hawkins fleet when it was trapped by the Spaniards in the Mexican port of San Juan de Ulúa. He escaped along with Hawkins.

Following the defeat at San Juan de Ulúa, Drake vowed revenge. He made two voyages to the West Indies, in 1570 and 1571, of which little is known.

In 1572, he embarked on his first major independent enterprise. He planned an attack on the Isthmus of Panama, known to the Spanish as Tierra Firme and the English as the Spanish Main. This was the point at which the silver and gold treasure of Peru had to be landed and sent overland to the Caribbean Sea, where galleons from Spain would pick it up at the town of Nombre de Dios. Drake left Plymouth on 24 May 1572, with a crew of 73 men in two small vessels, the Pascha (70 tons) and the Swan (25 tons), to capture Nombre de Dios.

His first raid was late in July 1572. Drake and his men captured the town and its treasure. When his men noticed that Drake was bleeding profusely from a wound, they insisted on withdrawing to save his life and left the treasure. Drake stayed in the area for almost a year, raiding Spanish shipping and attempting to capture a treasure shipment.

In 1573, he joined Guillaume Le Testu, a French buccaneer, in an attack on a richly laden mule train. Drake and his party found that they had captured around 20 tons of silver and gold. They buried much of the treasure, as it was too much for their party to carry. (An account of this may have given rise to subsequent stories of pirates and buried treasure.) Wounded, Le Testu was captured and later beheaded. The small band of adventurers dragged as much gold and silver as they could carry back across some 18 miles of jungle-covered mountains to where they had left the raiding boats. When they got to the coast, the boats were gone. Drake and his men, downhearted, exhausted and hungry, had nowhere to go and the Spanish were not far behind.

At this point Drake rallied his men, buried the treasure on the beach, and built a raft to sail with two volunteers ten miles along the surf-lashed coast to where they had left the flagship. When Drake finally reached its deck, his men were alarmed at his bedraggled appearance. Fearing the worst, they asked him how the raid had gone. Drake could not resist a joke and teased them by looking downhearted. Then he laughed, pulled a necklace of Spanish gold from around his neck and said "Our voyage is made, lads!" By 9 August 1573, he had returned to Plymouth

Pirate Captain Kidd's 'treasure' found in Madagascar

The bar is said to be from the wreckage of Capt Kidd's ship, the Adventure Galley

Underwater explorers in Madagascar say they have discovered treasure belonging to the notorious 17th-Century Scottish pirate William Kidd.

A 50kg (7st 9lb) silver bar was brought to shore on Thursday on the island of Sainte Marie, from what is thought to be the wreck of the Adventure Galley.

The bar was presented to Madagascar's president at a special ceremony.

US explorer Barry Clifford says he believes there are many more such bars still in the wreck.

Capt Kidd was first appointed by the British authorities to tackle piracy but later became a ruthless criminal and was executed in 1701.
'Scepticism'

"Captain's Kidd's treasure is the stuff of legends. People have been looking for it for 300 years. To literally have it hit me on the head - I thought what the heck just happened to me. I really didn't expect this," Mr Clifford said.

"There's more down there. I know the whole bottom of the cavity where I found the silver bar is filled with metal. It's too murky down there to see what metal, but my metal detector tells me there is metal on all sides."

The BBC's Martin Vogl tweets that there is much excitement in Madagascar about the discovery and Mr Clifford's team has no doubt that the discovery is genuine.

Barry Clifford led a team which discovered the suspected treasure

The team believes the bar, marked with what appears to be a letter S and a letter T, has its origins in 17th-Century Bolivia.

It believes the ship it has found was built in England, however there is bound to be scepticism and calls for more proof that the bar was linked to Capt Kidd, our reporter says.

One option would be to take samples of wood from the ship to analyse, he says.

The location of the ship, thought to have sunk in 1698, has been known about for many years but the silver bar was only discovered earlier this week.

Mr Clifford said that while diving in the wreck, his metal detector picked up signals but it was too muddy for him to see anything.

UK ambassador to Madagascar Timothy Smart, who attended the ceremony, said he hoped that Mr Clifford's latest discovery would raise Madagascar's profile as a tourist destination.

The plan is to exhibit the bars in a museum.

Francisco de Orellana and the Amazon River

If anything good can be said to have come of the El Dorado myth, it is that it caused the interior of South America to be explored and mapped. The best example is Francisco de Orellana, who was part of a 1542 expedition led by Gonzalo Pizarro. The expedition became divided, and while Pizarro went back to Quito, Orellana eventually discovered the Amazon River and followed it to the Atlantic Ocean.

Exploration of the Amazon River

Shipwrights from Francisco de Orellana's expedition building a small brigantine, the San Pedro

Gonzalo Pizarro set off in 1541 to explore east of Quito into the South American interior in search of El Dorado, the "city of gold" and La Canela, the "valley of cinnamon". He was accompanied by his second-in-command Francisco de Orellana. After 170 km, the Coca River joined the Napo River (at a point now known as Puerto Francisco de Orellana) the party stopped for a few weeks to build a boat just upriver from this confluence. They continued downriver through an uninhabited area, where they could not find food. Orellana offered and was ordered to follow the Napo River, then known as Río de la Canela ("Cinnamon River") and return with food for the party. Based on intelligence received from a captive native chief named Delicola, they expected to find food within a few days downriver by ascending another river to the north.

The Amazon originates from the Apacheta cliff in Arequipa at the Nevado Mismi, marked only by a wooden cross.

Orellana took about 57 men, the boat, and some canoes and left Pizarro's party on December 26, 1541. However, Orellana apparently missed the confluence (probably with the Aguarico) where he was to look for food. By the time he and his men reached another village many of them were sick from hunger and eating "noxious plants", and near death. Seven men died at that village. His men threatened to mutiny if he followed his orders and the expedition turned back to join Pizarro's larger party. He accepted to change the purpose of the expedition to discover new lands in the name of the King of Spain, and the men built a larger boat in which to navigate downstream. After a journey of 600 km down the Napo River they reached a further major confluence, at a point near modern Iquitos, and then followed the upper Amazon, now known as the Solimões, for a further 1,200 km to its confluence with the Rio Negro (near modern Manaus), which they reached on 3 June 1542.

On the Nhamunda River, a tributary of the Amazon downstream from Manaus, Orellana's party had a fierce battle with warriors who, they reported, were led by fierce female warriors who beat the men to death with clubs if they tried to retreat. Orellana's men began referring to the women as Amazons, a reference to the women of Greek Mythology. The river was initially known as the Marañón (the name by which the Peruvian part of the river is still known today) or Rio de Orellana. It later became known as the Rio Amazonas, the name by which it is still known in both Spanish and Portuguese.

The icamiabas Indians dominated the area close to the Amazon river. When Orellana went down the river in search of gold, descending from the Andes (in 1541), the river was still called Rio Grande, Mar Dulce or Rio de Canela (Cinnamon), because cinnamon trees were once thought to be located there. The story of the fierce ambush launched by the icamiabas that nearly destroyed the Spanish expedition was narrated to the king, Charles I, who, inspired by the Greek legend of the Amazons, named the river the Amazon.

In one of the most improbably successful voyages in known history, Orellana managed to sail the length of the Amazon, arriving at the river's mouth on 24 August 1542. He and his party sailed along the Atlantic coast until reaching Cubagua Island, near the coast of Venezuela.

The BBC documentary Unnatural Histories presents evidence that Orellana, rather than exaggerating his claims as previously thought, was correct in his observations that an advanced civilization was flourishing along the Amazon in the 1540s. It is believed that the civilization was later devastated by the spread of diseases from Europe, such as smallpox. The evidence to support this claim comes from the discovery of numerous geoglyphs dating from between 0 and 1250 AD and terra preta. Some 8 million people may have lived in the Amazon region in 1500, divided between dense coastal settlements, such as that at Marajó, and inland dwellers. By 1900 the population had fallen to 1 million and by the early 1980s it was less than 200,000


Capt Kidd’s pirate treasure ‘bogus’

There was huge excitement in Madagascar when the “treasure” was first discovered

Claims that a team of explorers discovered a famous 17th Century pirate shipwreck off the coast of Madagascar have been dismissed by UN experts.

A 50kg (7st 9lb) bar of “silver treasure” recovered from the sea was in fact 95% lead, the UN statement said.

It was presented to Madagascar’s president at a special ceremony in May.

The wreckage that the ingot was found in was not that of the ship captained by notorious Scottish pirate William Kidd, the UN investigators added.

A technical team from Unesco, the UN’s cultural arm, was sent to investigate the find, which made global headlines.

“The mission showed that several historic wrecks lie indeed in the bays of Sainte-Marie island,” the Unesco statement said.

“However, what had been identified as the Adventure Galley of the pirate Captain Kidd has been found by the experts… to be a broken part of the Sainte-Marie port constructions.”

Authorities in Madagascar should “only permit interventions by a competent team led by a qualified underwater archaeologist”, Michel L’Hour, head of the Unesco technical team, added.

Capt Kidd, who inspired Robert Louis Stevenson’s book Treasure Island, was first appointed by the British authorities to tackle piracy but later became a ruthless criminal and was executed in 1701.

In May US explorer Barry Clifford said: “Captain’s Kidd’s treasure is the stuff of legends.

“People have been looking for it for 300 years. To literally have it hit me on the head – I thought what the heck just happened to me. I really didn’t expect this.”


50kg Silver Bar Found in Madagascar may be Treasure of Notorious Pirate Captain Kidd - History

After looting the Cacafuego, Drake turned north, hoping to meet another Spanish treasure ship coming south on its return from Manila to Acapulco. Although he failed to find a treasure ship, Drake reputedly sailed as far north as the 38th parallel, landing on the coast of California on 17 June 1579. He found a good port, landed, repaired and restocked his vessels, then stayed for a time, keeping friendly relations with the Coast Miwok natives. He claimed the land in the name of the Holy Trinity for the English Crown, called Nova Albion—Latin for "New Britain". Assertions that he left some of his men behind as an embryo "colony" are founded on the reduced number who were with him in the Moluccas.

Drake's landing in California, engraving published 1590 by Theodor de Bry.

The precise location of the port was carefully guarded to keep it secret from the Spaniards, and several of Drake's maps may have been altered to this end. All first-hand records from the voyage, including logs, paintings and charts, were lost when Whitehall Palace burned in 1698. A bronze plaque inscribed with Drake's claim to the new lands – Drake's Plate of Brass – fitting the description in his account, was discovered in Marin County, California but was later declared a hoax. Now a National Historic Landmark, the officially recognized location of Drake's New Albion is Drakes Bay, California.

Ancient Navigators: Sir Francis Drake

Sir Francis Drake, Vice Admiral was an English sea captain, privateer, navigator, slaver, and politician of the Elizabethan era. Elizabeth I of England awarded Drake a knighthood in 1581. He was second-in-command of the English fleet against the Spanish Armada in 1588. He also carried out the second circumnavigation of the world, from 1577 to 1580.

At age 23, Drake made his first voyage to the New World, sailing with his second cousin, Sir John Hawkins, on one of a fleet of ships owned by his relatives, the Hawkins family of Plymouth. In 1568 Drake was again with the Hawkins fleet when it was trapped by the Spaniards in the Mexican port of San Juan de Ulúa. He escaped along with Hawkins.

Following the defeat at San Juan de Ulúa, Drake vowed revenge. He made two voyages to the West Indies, in 1570 and 1571, of which little is known.

In 1572, he embarked on his first major independent enterprise. He planned an attack on the Isthmus of Panama, known to the Spanish as Tierra Firme and the English as the Spanish Main. This was the point at which the silver and gold treasure of Peru had to be landed and sent overland to the Caribbean Sea, where galleons from Spain would pick it up at the town of Nombre de Dios. Drake left Plymouth on 24 May 1572, with a crew of 73 men in two small vessels, the Pascha (70 tons) and the Swan (25 tons), to capture Nombre de Dios.

His first raid was late in July 1572. Drake and his men captured the town and its treasure. When his men noticed that Drake was bleeding profusely from a wound, they insisted on withdrawing to save his life and left the treasure. Drake stayed in the area for almost a year, raiding Spanish shipping and attempting to capture a treasure shipment.

In 1573, he joined Guillaume Le Testu, a French buccaneer, in an attack on a richly laden mule train. Drake and his party found that they had captured around 20 tons of silver and gold. They buried much of the treasure, as it was too much for their party to carry. (An account of this may have given rise to subsequent stories of pirates and buried treasure.) Wounded, Le Testu was captured and later beheaded. The small band of adventurers dragged as much gold and silver as they could carry back across some 18 miles of jungle-covered mountains to where they had left the raiding boats. When they got to the coast, the boats were gone. Drake and his men, downhearted, exhausted and hungry, had nowhere to go and the Spanish were not far behind.

At this point Drake rallied his men, buried the treasure on the beach, and built a raft to sail with two volunteers ten miles along the surf-lashed coast to where they had left the flagship. When Drake finally reached its deck, his men were alarmed at his bedraggled appearance. Fearing the worst, they asked him how the raid had gone. Drake could not resist a joke and teased them by looking downhearted. Then he laughed, pulled a necklace of Spanish gold from around his neck and said "Our voyage is made, lads!" By 9 August 1573, he had returned to Plymouth

Pirate Captain Kidd's 'treasure' found in Madagascar

The bar is said to be from the wreckage of Capt Kidd's ship, the Adventure Galley

Underwater explorers in Madagascar say they have discovered treasure belonging to the notorious 17th-Century Scottish pirate William Kidd.

A 50kg (7st 9lb) silver bar was brought to shore on Thursday on the island of Sainte Marie, from what is thought to be the wreck of the Adventure Galley.

The bar was presented to Madagascar's president at a special ceremony.

US explorer Barry Clifford says he believes there are many more such bars still in the wreck.

Capt Kidd was first appointed by the British authorities to tackle piracy but later became a ruthless criminal and was executed in 1701.
'Scepticism'

"Captain's Kidd's treasure is the stuff of legends. People have been looking for it for 300 years. To literally have it hit me on the head - I thought what the heck just happened to me. I really didn't expect this," Mr Clifford said.

"There's more down there. I know the whole bottom of the cavity where I found the silver bar is filled with metal. It's too murky down there to see what metal, but my metal detector tells me there is metal on all sides."

The BBC's Martin Vogl tweets that there is much excitement in Madagascar about the discovery and Mr Clifford's team has no doubt that the discovery is genuine.

Barry Clifford led a team which discovered the suspected treasure

The team believes the bar, marked with what appears to be a letter S and a letter T, has its origins in 17th-Century Bolivia.

It believes the ship it has found was built in England, however there is bound to be scepticism and calls for more proof that the bar was linked to Capt Kidd, our reporter says.

One option would be to take samples of wood from the ship to analyse, he says.

The location of the ship, thought to have sunk in 1698, has been known about for many years but the silver bar was only discovered earlier this week.

Mr Clifford said that while diving in the wreck, his metal detector picked up signals but it was too muddy for him to see anything.

UK ambassador to Madagascar Timothy Smart, who attended the ceremony, said he hoped that Mr Clifford's latest discovery would raise Madagascar's profile as a tourist destination.