In 1984, underwater explorer Barry Clifford and his team discovered the only Pirate ship to be absolutely identified. Since the time of discovery, the ship Whydah has undergone further exploration and is considered by state and federal agencies to be a model for private archaeology. Many artifacts have so far been recovered from the Whydah including cannon and long rolls of lead and a ship stove.
With the discovery and positive identification of the Whydah, studies can be done to hopefully catch a glimpse of real pirate life and culture of those elusive mystery men of the 17th and 18th Century. So far, the artifacts uncovered have revealed some secrets of pirates including the racial tolerance that has long been speculated. Engraving and graffiti discovered that was done by the crew of the Whydah include such objects as a wounded heart, an hour glass and also a surprising number of Masonic symbols.
The Whydah was originally built and used as a slave ship before the pirate Sam Bellamy liberated her. Slave shackles have been recovered by the diving team to authenticate this fact. Not only was the crew of the Whydah diversified, so were her treasures. It is estimated that at the time of her sinking, she was carrying valuables from over 50 other ships. These contents have been said to come from over 12 countries on 4 different continents.
Gold artifacts including Akan jewelry appears to be the only examples that have survived from a period of time 1500-1870. People associated in some way with the Whydah include Ben Franklyn, Cotton Mather (Salem witch trials) Henry David Thoreau and others. The captain of the Whydah, Sam Bellamy was linked to important pirates such as William Kidd, Bart Roberts, Blackbeard and others.