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Weapon found on The Curse of Oak Island could be Roman pilum

Marty Lagina and Roman pilum
Marty Lagina on the latest episode of The Curse of Oak Island and, right, the object believed to be a Roman pilum. Pic credit: History

An iron rod found on The Curse of Oak Island could be a Roman pilum, a kind of javelin used as a weapon by soldiers in ancient times, it emerged last night.

The revelation came on the latest episode of the History show, after the object underwent both chemical composition testing and analysis by an antiquities expert.

The news was a huge boost for the team, but the episode was also tinged with sadness after it was revealed that researcher Zena Halpern — who has appeared on the show several times before — had passed away.

This article contains a full recap of The Curse of Oak Island Season 6 Episode 4, A Legacy Revealed, including the revelation about the pilum. Read below to find out more!

The action in the latest episode kicks off in the War Room where Rick Lagina, Gary Drayton, Craig Tester, Charles Barkhouse, Laird Niven, Dave Blankenship, and Jack Begley have exciting news to relay to Marty Lagina, who is there via conference call.

In front of Marty are pictures of a remarkable object, evidence of prior metal-detecting done by Gary and Mike West.

Gary tells the group that what they found blew both men away: a metal rod about the size of a knitting needle. Holding the metal object in his hand, Laird exclaims, “Wow, I mean is this what I think it is? It’s a crossbow bolt, an arrow capable of piercing chain mail.”

The object was found on Lot 26, ten inches below rocky soil, and Gary explains that it may be, “Templar old.”

Could this potentially medieval item be somehow connected to the mysterious lead cross found last year on the island?

Marty is struck by how out of place the item appears to be, and Rick concurs, observing that the slender rod is, “unlike anything we’ve ever found before.”

Then Marty drops a bombshell: “If that bolt is really, really, old, it’s probably more significant than the cross. Because the cross is an artifact…possibly dropped many years after it was formed.” In contrast, he points out that one doesn’t typically carry crossbow bolts around and then just drop them.

Tip of roman pilum
The tip of the object, initially thought to be a crossbow bolt. Pic credit: History

Rick concludes that additional testing is needed. But even more importantly, he declares that Gary needs a new shirt with a bigger top pocket for all of the finds he is uncovering!

The next day, Rick, Craig, and Charles are at the Money Pit where drilling efforts are under way with the goal of pinpointing the location of the original treasure site.

Last week, at depths of 93 feet and 96 feet, the giant drill bit brought up bits of horizontal wood, possibly the top of a tunnel. At this point in time there is no way to know what period the wood is from, or whether or not it is from a searcher tunnel or an original underground structure.

What is known is that the area represents an anomaly detected by the seismic data. Could this potentially significant find be wood from the infamous Chappel Vault?

Prior seismic scanning of the area revealed what could be an underground network of tunnels which makes the team hopeful that evidence of  flood tunnels, believed to be constructed to prevent searchers from finding treasure, will be found.

Today the team from Choice Drilling inform Craig that they’ve reached a depth of 164 feet where the earth is really soft. “Drill deeper,” Craig replies.

Hopes are also high that the drilling team will uncover data about the intriguing anomaly that seismic scanning found to be a roughly 30 foot-wide void at a depth of about 170 feet.

All eyes are on the enormous drill bit as the men speculate what it will bring up next. Craig says he will be happy with silver or wood. Of course, others such as father and son treasure-hunting team Dan and Dave Blankenship would prefer nothing less than something shiny, as in gold.

Then, at a depth of 200 feet down, the drill bit encounters bedrock. All agree that this is a disappointing development. Have they missed the underground anomaly entirely?

Rick especially is disappointed that they didn’t hit the center of the anomaly, observing that as usual things need to be learned on Oak Island. All that can be done now is to move on to the next target. The team must choose a different site in hopes of locating the Chappel Vault.

The next day Marty, Craig, and Alex travel northeast to Halifax, back to St. Mary’s University where Dr. Christa Brosseau, an expert in the study of metals and their chemical compositions, awaits. She is given the apparent crossbow bolt with hopes that she can date the metal spear.

She files a few tiny shavings from the bow and then uses a high-scanning electron microscope to determine the metal’s composition: iron and manganese. What does this mean?

Dr. Brosseau tells the team that manganese was used in the production of steel and iron beginning in the 9th century B.C. Could this indicate that the object is ancient, much older than originally believed?

Back on Oak Island, Craig heads to Smith’s Cove where construction of the massive 525-foot long steel cofferdam is under way. The team is on schedule, but not ahead of schedule as Craig hoped.

In one week they’ve set in place nine of the nearly 120 gigantic steel sheet pilings that, when pounded down approximately two dozen feet, will form a watertight barrier allowing the site to be fully drained. Once this occurs, will the box drain flood system be exposed along with ancient artifacts?

Amidst the high hopes, there is sad news to report. Rick has assembled the team in the War Room for an important meeting. With a somber look on his face he informs the men that it is with a lot of sadness that he must announce Zena Halpern has passed away at age 88.

Zena Halpern
Zena Halpern, who passed away earlier this year. Pic credit: History

Halpern was a researcher who spent over 50 years investigating possible Knights Templar journeys to North America. She believed that such journeys predated Christopher Columbus’ historic 1492 voyage.

Zena and Rick met two years ago and among the fascinating documents she shared with him was a 14th century Templar Map of Oak Island. They formed a bond that Marty describes as “kindred spirits”. Visibly moved, an emotional Rick gives his friend a tender tribute and later reads out loud a touching letter written about Zena by another one of her friends.

Three days after breaking the news of Zena’s passing, Rick and his nephew Peter Fornetti drive to Long Island, New York, to take possession of Zena’s immense cache of historical documents and books. She has bequeathed to Rick the contents of her lifetime of research.

Rick tells Peter that coming face-to-face with this unbelievable gift will be emotional and tough. Later, they meet with Zena’s son and grandson who point them to an overwhelming number of boxes bulging with documents.

There are also shelves jam-packed with books, and a closet stuffed with even more files and boxes. Among this treasure trove of data, is there evidence of a Templar Voyage to Oak Island just waiting to be discovered?

Peter Fornetti
Peter Fornetti looks through some of Zena Halpern’s boxes of papers. Pic credit: History

Rick seizes one book in particular, and pulls out a sheet of paper hidden inside. “Bingo!” he says, showing the others a map whose meaning he says needs to be “puzzled out.”

Next he finds the Cremona Document, which was at the core of Zena’s research. It was this document that led her to make a Templar Connection to Oak Island. It’s clear that there is a vast collection of treasured and historic items that the team will need to carefully and thoughtfully sift through in the days and months to come.

The next day Rick and the team assemble at the Money Pit site, where drilling has begun at the second location they hope to find the mysterious 170-foot deep void. Because of its close proximity to H8, this site is dubbed H7.5.

At a depth of 159 feet, the drill team has extracted core samples at intervals of ten feet. The earthen samples are painstakingly examined by hand for signs of hidden treasure. So far, nothing of note has been seen.

But wait, there’s more! In mere minutes, the enormous drill bit reaches down to a depth of 160 feet, hauling back up a load of mostly limestone, silt, and…coconut fiber? Could it be?

Craig plunges his hand into the muddy mess and pulls out what resembles a three-inch strand of wiry string, saying it looks like coconut fiber. If so, it is an amazing discovery!

Historical records document that coconut fiber was found in an excavation at the Money Pit area in 1804.

But how did it get there and why? Coconut trees are found some 1,500 miles from Novia Scotia. It has been theorized that coconut fiber could have been used to make a rope to lower valuables into a shaft on Oak Island.

Does this find mean that the team has just found the original Money Pit? Rick calls for further testing. But that isn’t the only intriguing find made that day.

At a depth of 171 feet, the drill bit coughs up what the team describes as ax-cut wood. This is the same depth as the anomaly seen in the seismic data. Is this wood evidence that they’ve just dug into the Chappel Vault? The soaking-wet wood is bagged so it can be tested.

Later that day the team gather in the War Room to hear a report by Gabriel Vandervort, an antiquities expert in California. He has examined the apparent crossbow bolt and has stunning news to share.

The expert said his first instinct was that the metal bolt was from the medieval period in Europe, causing smiles to break out around the table.

However, his research couldn’t nail down the object to the medieval period, so he went back in time, announcing that the object appears to be Roman. The team is stunned silent by the shocking news until an ebullient Jack Begley exclaims, “No way!”

The expert explains that the bow’s long neck is significant, causing him to theorize about its potentially Roman origins — explaining that this type of weapon was used from the 1st century B.C. up to the 5th century A.D. The find could be a Roman javelin called a pilum, and is declared a rare discovery by the expert.

Gary Drayton doesn’t do his gold dance, but he does yell out two words, “Roman, baby!”

Gary Drayton
Gary Drayton after finding out his discovery could have Roman origins. Pic credit: History

Rick is a bit more speculative, saying he’s not sure what to make of it because it’s so far outside the box, but concedes the news is spectacular.

“We’re sitting here with mouths open,” he says to an off-camera producer, while beside him brother Marty says he needs to, “take a deep breath and think about this.”

Vandervort says could think of no good reason of how it could have ended up on Oak Island, “unless it was brought over as part of some sort of cache of weapons or antiquities, even at a much later time.”

Asked by Marty what that makes him feel about Oak Island, he replies, “very intrigued.”

It’s been an incredible few days for the team, with scintillating highs and sad lows. As usual, persistence and patience are needed to continue the journey on Oak Island. But as recent events have shown, life is short and the time to solve the Oak Island mystery is now.

The Curse of Oak Island airs Tuesday nights at 9/8c 

Tanya is a freelance writer, therapist and educator. The L.A. native was born at General Hospital, foreshadowing her obsession with writing about soaps, something that makes her... read more


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