Modern Marvels

Season 13 Episode 23

Pirate Tech

Aired Wednesday 10:00 PM Jul 12, 2006 on The History Channel
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Episode Summary

Pirate Tech
Bold, cunning, and audacious, pirates are a breed of fighting men and women who have terrorized the high seas since before recorded history. At the height of their power in the 1700's they literally influenced the fate of nations when they became embroiled in the rivalry between England and Spain. This special will visit maritime museums and shipwreck sites, utilize walk-and-talk demonstrations of fire arms, swords, and navigation instruments to help spotlight the innovations pirates brought to maritime technology. Includes a look at how many pirates modified their ships to make them faster and more powerful.moreless
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Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (4)

    • Many pirates were superstitious and considered the compass to have magical properties. To ease their fears, they housed the compass in a small wooden box called a "binnacle" -- a term still in use today.

    • Early cannon shot was made of stone that was hand cut by skilled artisans. By the 1600s, iron shot was mass produced cheaper and faster, and thus became the preferred projectile for maritime artillerists.

    • A "shiver" is a wood splinter. The timbers of a ship splintering in battle gave rise to the term "shiver me timbers."

    • A "piece of eight" was legal tender in the American colonies, and later, the United States. Worth one dollar, it was demonetized in 1857.

  • QUOTES (1)

    • Narrator: Their customized ships that cut through the oceans like sharks to their use of big guns to hand grenades to navigation, the technology they developed to practice their murderous trade helped revolutionize naval warfare. Now, learn the three Arrs of Pirate Tech, on Modern Marvels.

  • NOTES (1)

    • Commentators:

      David Moore
      Nautical Archaeologist

      Phil Masters
      President, Intersal Inc.

      Wendy M. Welsh
      Queen Anne's Revenge Lab Manager

      Prof. Charles Ewen, PhD
      Historian & Author, X Marks the Spot

      Gail Selinger
      Author, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Pirates

      David Nateman
      Director, North Carolina Maritime Museum

      Corey Malcom
      Mel Fisher Maritime Museum

      Gary Harper
      Black Powder Specialist

      John Kraus
      Tall Ship First Mate, Ocean Institute

      James "Skip" Wehan
      Tall Ship Captain, Ocean Institute

      Sarah Knott
      Curator, Pirate Soul Museum