Taking Inventory: Explorer Map
“Yarrrrrrgh me hearties!” That’s pirate for “Oh, nice.” And, I suspect, is also what a pirate might say while upon discovery of our item of the week – the explorer map.
Explorer maps were added to Minecraft in the appropriately-named Exploration Update in November 2016, alongside llamas and totems of undying. They’re a great way to locate some of Minecraft’s rarer features – mansions, monuments, and buried treasure.
The easiest way to get an explorer map is to trade it from a Journeyman-level cartographer villager, which have a good chance to sell them for the low, low price of a single compass and 12 emeralds. If you get unlucky, then level up the cartographer with a bit more trading, and eventually they’ll figure out how to make them.
But buyer beware! There are three different kinds of explorer map – ocean, woodland, and buried treasure. The former two are sold by the cartographer, but the last one can only be found in underwater ruins and shipwrecks. If you want to find buried treasure, you’ll need to go diving.
When you’ve found a treasure map, the only thing left to do is locate the treasure – which is shown as a small icon for structures, or a red X for buried treasure. If you’re not currently in the area covered by the map then you’ll see the player marker right on the edge of the map and you’ll have to travel to get there. That’s one of the joys of exploring!
In the real world, treasure maps are more common in fiction than in reality – but they do exist!
One of the earliest known examples of a document that tells the reader where to find buried treasure is the “copper scroll” – which was found among the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1952 and is believed to date back to somewhere between 50 and 100 AD. It has a list of 63 locations where gold and silver was stored, with directions.
Here’s an example: “In the ruin which is in the valley of Acor, under the steps leading to the East, forty long cubits: a chest of silver and its vessels with a weight of seventeen talents.” To date, no-one has found a single one of the items mentioned on the scroll. Probably because the directions were kinda rubbish.
There are very few examples of real-world pirates burying real treasure. But Francis Drake did bury a bunch of Spanish gold and silver after raiding a train in what is now Panama, so that he could go and find his ships. He came back to retrieve it six hours later.
The pirate best known for legends of buried treasure is Captain Kidd. The story goes that he buried treasure which he plundered from a ship called the Quedah Merchant, near Long Island in New York. Unfortunately, he was captured and executed before he could recover it, and no traces of the treasure have ever been found.
I also like burying my stuff for safekeeping! For example, I buried the perfect ending to this article. Wait, where did I bury that again?