The Curse of Oak Island: Season 10, Episode 6 Summary
A plot summary and analysis of Season 10, Episode 6 of ‘The Curse of Oak Island,’ entitled ‘Over the Muon’.
Season 10, Episode 6 of The Curse of Oak Island begins at the Money Pit area, where Charles Barkhouse and Terry Matheson are overseeing the drilling of Borehole N.5-17.5. Roughly halfway through the episode, a core sample reveals wood from a depth of 99-103 feet – perhaps a piece of the mysterious underground tunnel which the crew has been following throughout the season. Matheson observes that the wood is shallower than expected, which leads him to speculate that it might belong to a different structure like another tunnel.
In the next scene, the crew drills Borehole F.25-14.4 at a location prescribed by Craig Tester. Members of the team examine a core sample taken from a depth of 100 feet and find wood at a depth of 103 feet. Driller Mike Tedford tells that the crew that his drill encountered a void between 99 and 103 feet, which Scott Barlow takes as an indication that the wood is the floor of the second tunnel which N.5-17.5 appears to intersect.
Surveyor Steve Guptill summarizes the double tunnel theory in a later interview, saying, “Right now, we’ve got real evidence that we have two different tunnels, at two different elevations, essentially in the same location.” If one tunnel lies at a depth of 103–107 feet, and the other at a depth of 99-103 feet, as the core samples seem to indicate, then it stands to reason that the wood discovered at a depth of 98 feet in DN12.5 back in Season 10, Episode 2, probably belongs to the more recently discovered shallow tunnel, and not the deeper tunnel which the crew has been following throughout the season.
In the next scene, Steve Guptill shows Rick Lagina and Scott Barlow the suspected trajectory of the deeper tunnel on a birds-eye computer-generated model of the Money Pit area. The tunnel appears to run right by some muon tomography devices placed underground at the end of Season 9 for the purpose of mapping the Money Pit area’s subterra. Since any drilling operations conducted within 10 feet of the muon devices will distort the data-collection process, the treasure hunters agree that they must exercise caution in their efforts to follow the tunnel. At Rick’s suggestion, the treasure hunters agree to sink one last exploratory hole, IJ15.25, as close to the muon devices as they dare. They commence this operation near the end of the episode.
Lot 8 Discoveries
In another scene, Gary Drayton and Jack Begley go metal detecting on Lot 8. First, they dig up two links of hand-forged iron chain, which Gary opines are probably old on account of their oval shape. Next, they unearth a small piece of heavily-tarnished copper covered with ornate designs. “It could be a large brooch,” Drayton suggests, “it could be a belt plate, it could be a headdress decoration.” Noting its green patina, Jack suggests that the artifact must be several hundred years old. Gary replies that the object is probably much older than a few centuries, saying that it reminds him of Roman coins that he has found.
The two treasure hunters show their discoveries to Rick Lagina, Craig Tester, Laird Niven, and Emma Culligan at the Oak Island Interpretive Centre. Laird examines the copper artifact under a microscope, telling the crew that his initially impression is that the piece is military in nature. Culligan then scans the artifact with an X-ray fluorescence spectrometer and determines that it is composed of 94.5% copper, with very small amounts of zinc and iron, and traces of arsenic and rhodium. Laird states that alloys of this composition are often very old, and suggests that they clean the artifact and subject it to a CT scan in order to glean more information from it.
A CT scan conducted later in the episode reveals that the object was folded three times during its manufacture. Laird Niven and Emma Culligan, along with fellow archaeologist Helen Sheldon, show Rick Lagina the 3D model of the artifact which the scan produced. Laird points out strange markings on the artifact which he says were deliberately made, and of a style which he has never seen before. All three archaeologists declare that they are baffled by the object.
In a War Room meeting near the end of the episode, the crew shows the mysterious copper artifact to Dr. Edwin Barnhart, the director of the Maya Exploration Center in Palenque, Mexico. Although Dr. Barnhart states that the symbols on the artifact are too fragmented to be diagnostic of any particular location or time period, and that its copper composition is inconsistent with the gold and silver artifacts crafted by Mexico’s Maya people, on which he is an expert, he agrees to take a closer look at it. He tentatively suggests that the object might be part of an ornate covering of a larger artifact like a box or a piece of furniture, and that it might be European in manufacture.
The team’s decision to contact Dr. Barnhart indicates that some of their number suspected that the artifact might be of Maya origin, the Maya being a Mesoamerican people who lived in stone cities in the Yucatan jungle from the time of the Roman Empire until the Spanish Conquista of the 16th and 17th Centuries. This suspicion is consistent with the theory, championed by researchers Gary Clayton and John O’Brien, that Oak Island’s original underground workings were built by the Maya, either as palygorskite clay mines or as repositories for priceless Maya codices and religious artifacts which their owners were desperate to keep out of Spanish hands. If you’d like to learn more about the Maya theory of Oak Island, please check out my video on the subject, which you can find by clicking the link in the description.
Arrival of the Crane
In the episode’s final scene, Rick Lagina stands next to Roger Fortin of Dumas Contracting Ltd. as a huge crane from Irving Equipment Ltd. rolls across the causeway. This crane, the narrator informs us, will be employed in the Garden Shaft Rehabilitation Project. Rick and Roger meet with crane operator Michel Ouellette and Irving representative Bill Pasch, who explain that they intend to excavate the Garden Shaft with a hammergrab.