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What appears to be an ancient Roman sword has been found off the East Coast of Canada, and it is just one of several indications that Romans may have been there around the 2nd century or earlier. That’s at least 800 years before the Vikings landed, which is currently believed to be the first contact between the Old World and the New World.
(Foreground) Artifacts found on or around Oak Island with possible connections to the ancient Roman Empire; (Background) Oak Island, Nova Scotia, in August 1931. (Courtesy of J. Hutton Pulitzer/InvestigatingHistory.org; Richard McCully/Public Domain)
The sword was discovered off the coast of Oak Island, Nova Scotia, during investigations into local lore of treasure buried on the island, conducted as part of the immensely popular History Channel show, “The Curse of Oak Island.”
A map showing Oak Island, Nova Scotia, Canada. (Norman Einstein/CC BY-SA)
J. Hutton Pulitzer worked as a consultant on the show for two seasons and he appeared in the show’s second season. His team began investigations on the island eight years before the History Channel arrived in 2013.
Pulitzer has given Epoch Times exclusive information about new discoveries on the island that, along with the sword, support his theory of a Roman presence.
Pulitzer is a well-known entrepreneur and prolific inventor. Many remember him as the host of the “NetTalkLive” TV show, an early Internet IPO titan, and the inventor of the CueCat (an idea that attracted major investors; it involved a device people could use to scan codes, similar to today’s QR-codes). His company famously went down in flames during the dot-com bubble burst, but Pulitzer’s patents live on today in 11.9 billion mobile devices.
A little over a decade ago, he turned his sights to his passion for lost history and, as an independent researcher and author, he has been working with experts in many fields, to investigate the mysteries of Oak Island.
His theory about an ancient Roman presence on the island has already met with some resistance, as it defies the currently accepted theory that the Vikings were the first Old World explorers to make it to the New World. He asks, however, that historians and archaeologists approach the evidence objectively, without a preconceived idea that the Romans did not make it to the New World.
J. Hutton Pulitzer. (Courtesy of J. Hutton Pulitzer/InvestigatingHistory.com)
The Oak Island sword’s authenticity has been verified by the best available tests, according to Pulitzer (Epoch Times was given access to the testing data).
The sword alone isn’t evidence however that the Romans were on Oak Island themselves. It is possible that someone only a few hundred years ago was sailing near the island and had in his possession this Roman antique. It may have been later explorers who left it there, not the Romans.
But other artifacts also found on-site provide a context that is difficult to dismiss, Pulitzer said.
Other artifacts his team has studied include a stone with an ancient language connected to the Roman Empire, burial mounds in the ancient Roman style, crossbow bolts reportedly confirmed by U.S. government labs to have come from ancient Iberia (encompassed by the Roman Empire), coins connected to the Roman Empire, and more.
An X-ray fluorescence (XRF) analyzer confirmed the metal composition of the sword matches that of Roman votive swords. XRF testing uses radiation to excite the atoms in the metal to see how the atoms vibrate. Researchers can thus detect which metals are present. Among the materials detected in the sword are zinc, copper, lead, tin, arsenic, gold, silver, and platinum.
These findings are consistent with ancient Roman metallurgy. Modern bronze uses silicon as the primary alloying element, but silicon is absent in the sword, Pulitzer said.
J. Hutton Pulitzer holding an XRF machine. (Courtesy of J. Hutton Pulitzer/InvestigatingHistory.org)
A few similar swords have been found in Europe. This model of sword has a depiction of Hercules on the hilt and it is believed to be a ceremonial sword given by Emperor Commodus to outstanding gladiators and warriors. The Museum of Naples made replicas of one of these swords in its collection, leading some to wonder whether the Oak Island weapon is a replica.
Though the replicas match the Oak Island sword in appearance, Pulitzer said the tests on its composition have 100 percent confirmed it is not a cast-iron replica. The sword also contains a lode stone that is oriented due north and could thus aid navigation, which is absent in the replicas.
History Channel producers obtained the sword from a local resident, which had been passed down in his family since the 1940s. It was originally found while illegally scalloping and it was pulled up in their rake. The family never told anybody about the discovery until the recent flurry of interest in Oak Island because, in addition to facing penalties for breaking the law, illegal scalloping is frowned upon and considered taboo in the small community.
A shipwreck has also been detected near where the sword was discovered. Pulitzer’s team has scanned it using side-scan sonar, and the History Channel show also confirmed it with detailed maps of the underwater terrain that show the characteristics of a shipwreck at the location.
Pulitzer’s research team and supporting academics are in the process of applying for government approval to dive and recover artifacts from the shipwreck.
(Courtesy of J. Hutton Pulitzer/InvestigatingHistory.org)
History Channel’s “The Curse of Oak Island” featured the Roman sword in its Jan. 19 episode. Pulitzer declined an offer to work with producers as a consultant for the third season. He felt the reality TV approach to the investigations wasn’t the way he wanted to proceed.
The show brought the sword to St. Mary’s University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, for associate professor of chemistry Dr. Christa Brosseau to study its chemical composition.
She filed off a shaving to test, and said results showed it has a high zinc content, suggesting it is modern brass.
Pulitzer responded: “We were amazed they used such a rudimentary chemical testing technique on the sword. The testing was not the best and most professional test to conduct, but what even perplexes us more is the fact their findings are significantly different from our XRF testing and they failed to mention the use of arsenic in the manufacturing of the sword.”
He noted that the presence of precious metals in the sword and the lode stone were also not addressed on the show.
Pulitzer believes the bronze used in the sword may have come from a mine in Breinigerberg, Germany. Two Roman swords of the same model were found near an ancient Roman settlement at this location, and this mine has zinc naturally occurring in its ores. He said this may account for the zinc content, that the zinc wasn’t added in as it is with modern brass.
Dr. Brosseau had characterized it as brass. Brass and bronze are both copper alloys and both were used by ancient Romans. Pulitzer maintains, however, that it should be classified as bronze because the zinc is naturally occurring rather than added.
He hopes further tests will be done, particularly by scientists with experience in Roman antiquities, especially since other artifacts on the island may provide a context of a Roman presence.
A Stone From the Ancient Levant?
In 1803, a stone was found on Oak Island that has become known as the “90-foot stone.”
It was found 90 feet below ground in the so-called Money Pit. The first treasure hunters on the island were a group of young men who saw a depression in the ground and a pulley in a large oak tree above it.
Out of curiosity, they dug into the ground and found wooden platforms at regular intervals on the way down. This stone was found as well and brought up.
The pit flooded with seawater before the diggers could reach the bottom. It has been theorized that the pit contains treasure and was booby trapped, with a shaft leading to the coast, so that anyone attempting to reach the treasure below would drown.
The stone was inscribed with symbols of unknown origin. Reverend A.T. Kempton, of Cambridge, Massachusetts, claimed to have deciphered the script in 1949, and said it declared treasure was buried 40 feet below.
While drawings of the stone have survived, the stone itself went missing in 1912. Pulitzer announced exclusively to Epoch Times that he has found the stone, and his analysis has shown it may have strong connections to the ancient Roman Empire.
The stone was presented to him by someone involved in the treasure hunt on the island, whom Pulitzer will not identify publicly (Epoch Times has been privately informed of his identity). The man’s family recently opened up to Pulitzer and is allowing the stone to be tested.
A rendering of the script on the 90-foot stone.
Pulitzer said the script on the stone was misinterpreted in 1949. The Rev. Kempton had dismissed some of the symbols as mistakes and interpreted others incorrectly.
The script has now been statistically analyzed using a computer program that compares it to a database of languages. It came up with a 100 percent match to a script related to the ancient Roman Empire. Pulitzer’s background in technology and statistics helped him make the analysis.
According to his analysis, it matches a proto-Canaanite script, also known as proto-Sinaitic. It is an ancestor of many languages in the Levant. The writing on the 90-foot stone is an ancient mariner’s derivative of proto-Canaanite, used as a common tongue to communicate at ports of various native languages during the time of the Roman Empire. It mixes proto-Canaanite with proto-Berber (the ancestor of North Africa’s Berber languages) and other proto-languages.
The stone’s inscription is undergoing continued analysis at universities in the Middle East, by the world’s leading experts on ancient languages in the Levant. Pulitzer said his team has decoded the inscription, but he is waiting for the final report before announcing what the script says and where the analysis was performed.
The writing on the 90-foot stone is an ancient mariner’s derivative of proto-Canaanite, used as a common tongue to communicate at ports during the time of the Roman Empire.This script was lost in antiquity and only rediscovered in the early 20th century by Hilda and Flinders Petrie. A full codification of the script was only achieved after the 1999 discovery of the so-called Wadi el-Hol inscriptions found in Egypt by John and Deborah Darnell.
Since the 90-foot stone was discovered in 1803, it could not have been a forgery, Pulitzer said.
From a visual comparison, Pulitzer has surmised that it is made of a perceptibly distinctive type of stone called Imperial porphyry, which does not naturally exist in North America. The continued analysis of the stone will include verifying its mineral composition.
It is made of a perceptibly distinctive type of stone called Imperial porphyry, which does not naturally exist in North America.
A detail from the 4th century sarcophagus of St. Helena, Roman Emperor Constantine’s mother, carved in Imperial porphyry. (Wendy Van Norden)
A portion of the sculpture, “Portrait of the Four Tetrarchs,” made of Imperial porphyry around A.D. 300, depicted four Roman emperors. It is currently located on the facade of St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice, Italy. (Crisfotolux/iStock)
Roman naturalist Pliny (A.D. 23–79) documented in his “Natural History” the discovery of Imperial porphyry by Roman legionary Caius Cominius Leugas in A.D. 18. The quarry of Mons Porpyritis in Egypt is the only known source.
It was valued for use in Roman monuments. The precise location of the quarry was lost to memory from approximately the 4th century until 1823, when it was rediscovered by Egyptologist John Gardner Wilkinson.
At the turn of the century, a treasure hunter unearthed a thick beam of wood. When the beam was cut up, three crossbow bolts were found inside. This means the bolts were fired from a crossbow into the tree, and the tree grew around them.
A depiction of the crossbow bolts found in a wooden beam on Oak Island. The bolt on the far right is a photograph of the actual artifact, not a drawing. (Courtesy of J. Hutton Pulitzer/InvestigatingHistory.org)
The tree is estimated to have been some 1,000 years old when it was cut down. The bolts are stuck about 3 quarters of the way in, suggesting they hit the tree hundreds of years before it was cut down, though it’s not known how long ago the tree was cut to make the wooden beam.
More precise dating of the bolts was done when they were analyzed by a U.S. military weapons testing lab, said Pulitzer. Rick and Marty Lagina, the stars of “The Curse of Oak Island,” showed Pulitzer the results of the testing.
The lab stated that the bolts came from Iberia, and that they date from the same time period as the various incursions of the Roman Empire and possibly the sword.
To support a claim that Romans made it to the New World could be considered professional suicide.Epoch Times could not verify the lab results. Pulitzer said he asked for a copy of the results, and was promised a copy, but did not receive it. The documentation is in possession of Oak Island Tours (of which the Lagina Brothers own a controlling interest) and its partners.
The History Channel did not respond to inquiries from Epoch Times. Pulitzer saw the results, he said, and he knows they were received through a contact at the United States Army Soldier Systems Center in Natick, Massachusetts.
The extent to which such a finding is controversial is shown in a response Pulitzer said the Laginas received when they contacted an expert at a major U.S. university about the bolts.
Pulitzer, reading his notes from his meetings with the Laginas, shared the response with Epoch Times: “Do not use our name, do not involve us in this, do not name the university. Do not even tell anybody you sent these to me. These are dangerous, they are dangerous to my profession, I do not want to be involved in any way.”
The suggestion is that to support a claim that Romans made it to the New World could be considered professional suicide.
Ancient Burial Mounds
Off the coast of Oak Island are now-submerged burial mounds. James P. Scherz, earthworks expert and professor emeritus of civil engineering at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, said that he believes the mounds are not of Native American origin.
“I am in agreement [with] the underwater mounds being of a foreign (ancient mariner style) and not native to Nova Scotia or traditional North American,” Scherz said in a comprehensive white paper about the evidence that suggests Romans made it to Nova Scotia. The paper is authored by Pulitzer and several other scientists and is to be published in the spring; Epoch Times previewed it.
“These mounds, in looking at the known ocean levels for the area through specific Canadian ocean level rise reports, give a possible date of these mounds occurring between 1500 B.C. and A.D. 180,” Scherz said.
The way the mounds were stone-lined is consistent with ancient European and Levant burial mounds.
One of the underwater mounds investigated by J. Hutton Pulitzer’s team off the coast of Oak Island. (Courtesy of J. Hutton Pulitzer/InvestigatingHistory.com)
The local native Mi’kmaq culture was not a mound-building culture. The way the mounds were stone-lined is consistent with ancient European and Levant burial mounds, however. Scherz also noted that the mounds were astrologically aligned.
Pulitzer’s team has investigated the underwater mounds using above-water scans and also by diving down to take a closer look and take photographs.
Stone With Roman Directions?
Several other artifacts found on the island may, with further study, support the theory that Romans were there, Pulitzer said. For example, a stone is inscribed with what may be Roman symbols.
Pulitzer’s team is working with ancient language experts to compare the symbols with other known Roman inscriptions. From what he knows so far, he expects them to be Roman navigational directions.
A hoard of Carthaginian coins was found near Oak Island and authenticated by Dr. George Burden of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society.
An enhanced photo of a rock found on Oak Island that J. Hutton Pulitzer believes may be inscribed with Roman symbols. (Courtesy of J. Hutton Pulitzer/InvestigatingHistory.com)
Petroglyphs in Nova Scotia depict what Pulitzer’s team has interpreted as potentially being ancient mariners and Roman soldiers.
A local aboriginal petroglyph found on Oak Island, believed by J. Hutton Pulitzer to depict Roman legionaries. (Courtesy of J. Hutton Pulitzer/InvestigatingHistory.org)
A hoard of Carthaginian coins was found near Oak Island in the late 1990s by a local metal detector hobbyist. They were authenticated by Dr. George Burden of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society. Dr. Burden has also confirmed the authenticity of two 2,500-year-old Carthaginian coins similarly found by a hobbyist near the ocean in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.
The Romans would have solicited the help of mariners in their empire to make the voyage, as Romans weren’t known to be great shipbuilders or sailors themselves.
A Carthaginian coin found off the coast of Oak Island. (Courtesy of J. Hutton Pulitzer/InvestigatingHistory.org)
The Romans would have solicited the help of mariners in their empire to make the voyage, as Romans weren’t known to be great shipbuilders or sailors themselves. The Carthaginians (ancient Tunisians) were known for their shipbuilding, and as Roman subjects, they may have taken the Romans on their voyage, Pulitzer said.
Pulitzer noted that if someone asked him whether he could sail across the Atlantic, he’d say, “Yes.” Not because he can do so personally, but because he is able to commission a boat to take him. It was the same with the Romans.
Myron Paine, Ph.D., a retired engineer who taught at Oklahoma State University, said in the white paper that he thinks it was possible for ancient mariners to “hop travel,” in pre-Columbus times. They would have taken a route with stops in the U.K., Iceland, Greenland, Baffin Island, Cape Breton, and finally Oak Island.
A map showing the route ancient mariners could have taken starting at the Strait of Gibraltar, the location of two promontories known by the ancient Romans as “The Pillars of Hercules,” and ending in Nova Scotia, Canada. (Kaan Tanman/iStock)
Oak Island would have been chosen as a way point, Pulitzer said, because of its fresh water and clear visibility from the sea. The tall oak trees, for which the island was named, stand out on the horizon when sailing along the coast.
Similar Findings in Brazil
Oak Island isn’t the first place Roman artifacts have purportedly been found in the New World. It is beyond the scope of this article to outline all the controversial claims, but we will briefly recount one as an example.
In the 1980s, archaeologist Robert Marx said he found a large collection of amphoras in Guanabara Bay, 15 miles from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Amphoras are two-handled vessels that were used by the Romans to carry goods.
A file photo of ancient Roman amphoras. (Saiko/CC BY)
Elizabeth Will, a specialist in ancient Roman amphoras at the University of Massachusetts, authenticated the amphoras. She told The New York Times at the time: “They look to be ancient and because of the profile, the thin-walled fabric, and the shape of the rims, I suggested they belong to the 3rd century A.D.”
Dr. Harold E. Edgerton of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a pioneer in underwater photography, also stood behind Marx’s claims.
The Brazilian government forbade Marx from further exploring the find. A wealthy businessman, Americo Santarelli, claimed the amphoras were replicas he had made, but he only claimed to have four. Marx reported a vast number all in one spot. Some were on the surface, but some were buried several feet, suggesting they were deposited there long ago.
Marx also claimed the Brazilian Navy covered the site with silt to prevent further investigation. According to The New York Times article, Marx said government official told him: “Brazilians don’t care about the past. And they don’t want to replace [16th century Portuguese navigator Pedro Alvares] Cabral as the discoverer.”
Pulitzer is hopeful that this will not happen in Nova Scotia.
Nova Scotia’s culture minister, Tony Ince, has taken some interest in the sword and suggested it be sent to experts on Roman antiquities for verification. It is not currently covered by the province’s Special Places Protection Act, since that act was passed after the sword was discovered. The act would give the province the right to step in, however, regarding any artifacts recovered in the future.
Pulitzer hopes the artifacts found on and near the island will gain the interest of scholars worldwide, and that the area will be declared an archaeological site and thus protected for further investigation.
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