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In The Curse Of Oak Island, One Episode Stands Above The Rest

For nine seasons, History's "The Curse of Oak Island" has chronicled the efforts of Michigan brothers Rick and Marty Lagina to recover whatever is buried beneath the tiny wooded patch of land in Nova Scotia's Mahone Bay. The Laginas and their team of archaeologists, metal detection experts, drillers, and divers have explored the island exhaustively, including the extensive network of tunnels and shafts beneath the ground.

There are many theories as to who is responsible for the massive undertakings on Oak Island; based on historical records and recent finds, strong cases could be made for both the Knights Templar and the British military. While complete answers have eluded the Laginas as to exactly who is responsible for the many undocumented features on the island, like the wooden walls in Smith's Cove or the stone road uncovered at the edge of the swamp, they have unearthed many objects with historical or archaeological significance.

Among them are a lead Knights Templar cross, a gold brooch from the 14th century, and even the tip of a Roman pilum. But in Season 5, Episode 5, "Bone Dry," some exhaustive research leads to an unexpected find that shocks the team and viewers alike.

Old documents lead the team to a surprising find

While digging through a huge pile of documents donated by late 20th-century Oak Island treasure hunter M.R. Chappell, historian Charles Barkhouse finds a sworn affidavit by Canadian government officer Frederick Blair stating that there was "unmistakable evidence of [the drill bit] having gone through or into gold." Armed with perhaps the team's first piece of credible evidence that at least some of whatever treasure was buried so long ago still remains beneath Oak Island, historian Doug Crowell scours their archival collection until he can pinpoint the location of the find.

In sifting through the spoils from that spot at a depth of 160 to 165 feet, archaeologist Laird Niven and Barkhouse find what Rick Lagina calls one of the "top five" most curious objects ever recovered on Oak Island: a thumb-sized piece of what Niven thinks is human bone. Rick is at first incredulous, saying, "I never would have suspected bone." The usually more skeptical Marty agrees with Niven, however, saying, "We're going to follow where the bone leads."

The fragment — and another later discovered near it — give the team undeniable evidence that there was human involvement in whatever happened beneath Oak Island, and narrator Robert Clotworthy closes the episode by speculating that the bone may even belong to "the last person to know the truth about what really lies below." While the questions of who they were and why they were left behind still remain, their presence has been felt in every moment of the show since.