The Curse of Oak Island recap: Goddess Tanit and disaster for DMT

Rick Lagina
Rick Lagina discusses Zena Halpern’s Tanit theory on The Curse of Oak Island

SPOILER ALERT! Don’t read below here if you don’t want to know what happened on The Curse of Oak Island Season 5 Episode 13, Unhinged.

The Curse of Oak Island Season 5 has just three episodes left! Still no gold dance from Gary Drayton, but this week did see the team cover a lot of new ground.

Thanks to last week’s agreement reached with Tom Nolan, the team were able to continue their exploration of the lots owned by his late father Fred — with interesting results.

We also saw New York-based historian Zena Halpern make a return to the show as she introduced a theory that the medieval cross found on the island could be a representation of the goddess Tanit.

Meanwhile, operations at the Money Pit area took on a new twist — with disaster striking the DMT shaft. Here’s 10 things we learned in Season 5 Episode 13…

1 DMT started off looking promising

DMT shaft
The hammer-grab tool removing spoils from the DMT shaft at a rapid rate

Hopes were high at the beginning of the episode as the DMT shaft, named in honor of Drake Tester, made excellent headway into the ground. Located 10ft from where the team previously dug the shaft known as H-8, the hammer grab tool was seen bringing up vast amounts of mud and not much else.

But that was a GOOD thing, because it meant they were most likely drilling through unexplored ground. There was a small amount of wood, probably from the so-called Chappell Shaft, but other than that things were looking good.

Unfortunately, by the end of the episode things had taken a huge turn for the worse.

2 Zena Halpern thinks the cross could represent the goddess Tanit

Goddess Tanit representation
A representation of the goddess Tanit, who Zena Halpern thinks could have inspired the lead cross

Historian Zena Halpern, an expert in ancient seafaring, returned to the show this episode — at least in voice.

Rick Lagina, local historian Doug Crowell and metal-detecting expert Gary Drayton phoned her to get her take on the mysterious medieval cross found at Smith’s Cove by Gary earlier in the season.

Her theory is that the cross, made of lead and with arms that curve forward slightly, was a depiction of the Punic and Phoenician deity Tanit.

Zena said that as well as being revered as the goddess of fertility, love and motherhood, Tanit was also the “protector of sailors on the high seas”. Zena also believed that the Templars would have “revered her” after coming across her symbol during their time in the Holy Land.

After the team told her how one of the human bones found earlier in the season came from someone with Middle Eastern ancestry, she said: “Oh, my God! Well, the only word I can say right now is ‘wow’. Congratulations. This is stunning. This is the find of the century.”

You can find out more about Tanit and whether she could have inspired the cross here.

3 They’re going to talk to other experts

Gary Drayton and Doug Crowell
The team conclude their conversation with Zena on the phone

It has to be said that Rick didn’t appear completely convinced by Zena’s theory, although he was certainly interested in the idea that the cross might not actually be a crucifix.

He said after their phone conversation: “I do know this — that she’s excited and Gary is over-the-top happy. Is it an incredibly interesting find on Oak Island? You bet it is. But we need experts to give us an opinion.”

He added to Gary and Doug: “We need to do some further research. I’m not saying that I don’t believe her, but there’s always a benefit to corroborative evidence.”

In a voiceover, narrator Robert Clotworthy revealed the team plan to subject the cross to “a number of scientific tests”. He said: “If it can be determined that the object really does date back to the 14th century or even earlier, they may have come close to proving that members of the Knights Templar really did come to Oak Island, and that the Money Pit might be much older than previously thought.”

4 Hinges found in the ancient dump site could be from a chest

Charles Barkhouse
Charles Barkhouse finds one of the hinges in the location of the ‘ancient dump site’

After digging a trench on Lot 12 last episode in the hopes of finding an “ancient dump site”, they pretty much confirmed they had located it this week with the discovery of two historic metal hinges.

The first was found by Gary with his metal-detecting device while a second was discovered by Charles Barkhouse lying amongst debris dug out from the trench. Gary then told how he had previously found similar ones on a Spanish shipwreck site that had come off chests. 

This obviously led to the theory that the hinges could in some way be connected to one of the apparent missing chests once owned by privateer Capt. James Anderson, whose belongings earlier in the season were revealed to include three mystery keys

Alternatively, could they be connected to the skeleton key found on the island by Fred Nolan and which the team were shown by his son Tom last episode?

5 Rick finds a stake in the swamp

Rick Lagina in swamp
Rick inspects the stake after pulling it out of the swamp

Drain the swamp! After seeing Fred Nolan’s remarkable survey maps of the island last episode, one of the obvious stand-out things to try and find were the stakes which he believed were old survey markers and proved the swamp was man-made.

So this episode the team headed to the apex, which lies on one of the lots owned by the Nolan family, and drained out several small ponds. Rick then got in wearing his waders and pulled out — a stake!

What was interesting about it was that it exactly matched Fred and Tom’s previous descriptions of the stakes. One end was hacked five times to create a spike— and because that would have been stuck in the ground it was much better preserved than the other end.

In 1969, Fred and Dan Blankenship had one of the stakes carbon-dated and it came back as being from 1575 plus or minus 85 years.

6 Access to the Nolan lots could be a game-changer

Map of Oak Island lots
The four Nolan lots, numbers 9-12, which the team now have access to

This is a bit of a side-note, but it seems like having access to the Nolan family’s lots could prove crucial to the team in helping them solve the mystery.

They have only had access to the lots for a few days, and they’re already pulling in big finds. The hinges could provide vital new leads, and the stake could help corroborate the theory about the swamp being made to hide a sunken pirate ship or perhaps a secret entrance to the Money Pit.

With more time on these new lots, there is surely much more to be found. For fans of The Curse of Oak Island this is obviously a very good thing, because…Season 6?!

7 Disaster strikes for DMT

Caisson teeth
The mangled caisson teeth brought up by the hammer-grab tool from the DMT shaft

Things were looking so promising as the DMT caisson raced down into the ground then…disaster. Hydraulic fluid started pouring out of the oscillator, and it quickly became evident that the caisson had hit something seriously hard underground at 77ft.

The team have no idea what they’ve hit, and at first it wasn’t known quite how serious the situation was. They tried breaking the object up using a 4ton steel chisel bit, and thought they had done so so sent the hammer-grab tool back down.

But what did it bring up? Gnarled teeth from the steel caisson — and lots of them.

Jack Begley: “What happens if you don’t have any more teeth?” Mike Jardine from Irving Equipment: “You don’t go any further.”

8 They’re going to send a camera down there

Camera being lowered into DMT
The camera being lowered into the DMT shaft on the next episode

After the DMT disaster, Rick rang brother Marty to tell him the bad news, saying: “Houston — we have a problem.”

Two options were then presented by Irving’s Danny Smith and Mike Jardine. Option one was to pull the can up, fix the teeth, move the hole forward about a foot and a half and restart from the surface — in the hope that they would miss the solid object. 

Option two was to send a camera down and try and figure out what it is. This was the option they went for, because a) it could provide new information and b) moving the can a foot and a half might mean they miss what they’re looking for at 170ft — the Chappell Vault.

9 It looks like DMT floods next episode

Rick dropping head
Rick drops his head after the apparent flooding of the shaft next episode

This part of the preview for the next episode did NOT look good for the team.

It showed the camera being lowered down into the DMT shaft and appearing to find lots of mud and muck at the bottom. Then footage showed water appearing to flood into it — as Rick looked on in despair.

However, there was also some good news as it looks like the team find a decorative keyhole (from a chest?) and…

10 Crosses like the one found were used to smuggle GOLD

Lead cross being examined
The cross being examined as the team are told about the gold-smuggling theory

Yup, you heard it right — GOLD! The sneak peek for the next episode also showed a theory being presented that crosses like the one found on oak island were used to smuggle the precious metal.

The team are told: “This was how they smuggled gold. There was gold under this cross and the cross was covered with lead.”

Jack Begley is then heard saying: “So there’s a chance that they’re out in Smith’s Cove still” — suggesting that there might be other artifacts in Smith’s Cove, possibly even gold ones. Let’s hope for the latter!

The Curse of Oak Island airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on History. 

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