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We were all raised believing that pirates habitually buried their treasure like it was a trait of their species, beyond their control, something they just did without thinking like the way certain tough guys adjust their scrotum every 45 seconds.
In all likelihood this stereotype comes from a single source, like Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island. But I wonder if it has any historical basis at all. Did any pirate ever bury a treasure and then forget to go back and get it? Did any pirate ever bury a treasure at all? If so, why?
It can't be one of those schemes you see in movies sometimes when a guy steals something, hides it, turns himself in, then spends the money when he gets out of prison. A pirate would know that if he ever got caught, he'd never see the light of day again. Was it to save room on the ship? Were pirate ships typically so crowded with scallywags, wenches and scurvy knaves that they needed the extra two square feet a treasure chest inhabited?
And what's with those useless maps they made? Even a pirate would know that a map that consisted of drawings of trees and dotted lines would not be enough to navigate by. These guys were professional navigators, for Pete's sake. And who is Pete? Why have so many people done things for his sake? Is he at grateful? Does he even know what we've been doing on his behalf?
As a person who has published a book about pirates (okay, a book of pirate cartoons) I know all too well that the mysterious life of the pirate raises far more questions than it answers. Perhaps it is best that we never know the truth and just admire these filthy, ruthless, criminals for the romantic heroes they were.