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There are twelve features in this stereotypical image that are commonly associated with a pirate. Take a minute and see whether you can identify some of them. I’ll list them at the end of this blog.

Piracy is the seagoing act to steal the cargo of another ship. In the ancient Mediterranean, especially along the coast of Anatolia (Turkey), the shoreline was unsuitable for agriculture. The humble people who lived there turned first to fishing, but when that alone could not support them, the men turned to piracy.

Homer mentions piracy as a normal occurrence in his ILIAD and ODYSSEY. Plutarch, who lived around the time of Miriam, referred to piracy as not just an industry for the poor and desperate but a glorious occupation for high-status adventurers.

I doubt whether Miriam would have agreed with Plutarch’s romantic conception. Her mother, Yocheved, came from a family that had once owned and operated a fleet of freighters in the eastern Mediterranean. They’d been wealthy but had lost too many ships to piracy along the Anatolian coast. Consequently, despite Miriam’s mother having been the only surviving child, she had a meager dowry: some Alexandrian pearls, clothing, and cash but no landed properties.

Miriam would gladly have sold the Alexandrian pearls to get back the alchemicals scrolls stolen from her home, but according to tradition and as specified in her parents’ marriage contract, if her mother predeceased her father, which she did, Miriam's brother as the eldest son would inherit the pearls. And so, in THE DEADLIEST LIE, Miriam could rely on only her grit to recover those scrolls.

Here are the twelve features in this image associated with being a pirate: a peg leg, hook, cutlass, parrot, bicorne hat, Jolly Roger, Royal Navy jacket, bad teeth, maniacal grin, earrings, beard, and eye patch.

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