Discovery of Ancient Coins May Solve Mystery of Murderous 1600s Pirate
A handful of coins unearthed from a pick-your-own-fruit orchard in rural Rhode Island and other random corners of New England may help solve one of history's oldest cold cases.
A small number of coins discovered at a pick-your-own-fruit orchard in rural Rhode Island and other parts of New England may help solve one of history's oldest cold cases.
Jim Bailey, an amateur historian and metal detectorist, found the first intact 17th-century Arabian coin in a meadow in Middletown, the AP reported.
“It's a new history of a nearly perfect crime,” Bailey said.
According to historical records, on September 7, 1695, a pirate ship named Fancy under Captain Every’s command captured the Ganj-i-Sawai. That ship belonged to Indian emperor Aurangzeb. At the time, the Indian emperor was one of the most powerful men in the world. Aboard the ship were Muslims returning from Mecca and tens of millions of dollars’ worth of gold and silver.
Reports say Every and his men tortured and killed the men and raped the women aboard the Indian ship. Then they escaped to the Bahamas, a safe place for pirates at that time. When word of the crimes reached English King William III, he set a large price for the capture of the pirates.
Until now, historians only knew that Every eventually sailed to Ireland in 1696 and disappeared. However, Bailey said the coins he and others have found prove that the pirate and his crew had first come to the American colonies.
According to Bailey, the first complete coin surfaced in 2014 at Sweet Berry Farm in Middletown, a spot that had piqued his curiosity two years earlier after he found old colonial coins, an 18th-century shoe buckle and some musket balls.
Waving a metal detector over the soil, Bailey got a signal, dug down and unearthed a darkened, dime-sized silver coin he initially assumed was either Spanish or money minted by the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
Research confirmed that the coin was made in 1693 in Yemen. Since Bailey’s discovery, others have found 15 more Arabian coins from the same time period. One coin was found in North Carolina, where records show some of Every’s men first landed. Another coin was found in 2018 at a farm in Connecticut.
Bailey, who has a degree in anthropology from the University of Rhode Island, published his findings in the research publication American Numismatic Society.
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