The notorious pirate Edward Teach, known as Blackbeard, captured a French ship and renamed it the Queen Anne's Revenge. The three French physicians aboard were offered their lives spared if they joined the pirates, which they did. They continued their medical practices for Blackbeard's fleet, which no doubt kept them busy. The Queen Anne's Revenge became Blackbeard's flagship, until it ran aground off the coast of North Carolina in 1718. Blackbeard fled, and the ship remained underwater until it was rediscovered in 1996. The ship and its contents have been meticulously studied ever since.
Some of the artifacts recovered from the Queen Anne's Revenge are from the ship's medical staff, and reflect the state of medicine of the time. Pirates were prone to malnutrition, dehydration, injuries from battle and from sailing, and diseases such as malaria, dysentery, and syphilis. Archaeologists have found an enema pump to treat dehydration from the back end. There were also bloodletting instruments, and a syringe used to introduce mercury into the urethra to combat syphilis. Yes, that was dangerous, but it was the standard treatment at the time. Read about the medical artifacts from the Queen Anne's Revenge and what they tell us about pirate medicine at ZME Science. -via Damn Interesting
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