Roman Sword in Nova Scotia?

Hello everyone! This is my first post on The Straight Dope forum, so I hope I’m not posting this in the wrong category.

Anyway, someone pointed out a link to me about a Roman sword found on Oak Island (yeah, oh boy). In the article, the researcher was making claims about the sward being “100 percent confirmed” as Roman, as well as going off on how dangerous discoveries like this are to the mainstream establishment (stuff like this always raises red flags for me). I’m about 99.9% sure this “single most important discovery for the Americas” is just a load of bull. I know for sure the lead researcher has flimsy qualifications at best, as he has been mentioned on a pageon Jason Calvino’s website at least once. Have any of you guys heard of this “discovery” or the show it’s featured on? And if you have, can you point out any good sources for debunking it? Thanks!

I haven’t visited the Money Pit and I doubt I ever will, but the way people describe it, it’s just a sink hole or even a wave blow hole where mariners staying overnight dump their trash. Explorers have never been able to describe the country rock and manner of excavation. They would have if it was a man-made shaft. Now examining the sides is impossible as it has been cemented and grouted. Whether or not Romans or Vikings were the first to dump their trash around the islands is a different thing.

Didn’t have time to read your link, but is the Oak Island story being conflated with this here?

It really doesn’t matter because its entirely possible a roman ship got caught in a storm off Africa or Spain, blown off course, drifted for months and washed up against rocks in Nova Scotia with the occupants all long dead of thirst.

Changes nothing at all about the history of the Americas.

Are you kidding? A roman broadsword found in Nova Scotian waters would’ve blown our other recent find (a 100+ year old Alexander Keith’s beer bottle found in the Halifax harbour) right off the front page.

It’d completely rewrite all the history books and we Bluenoses could finally tell those Newfies to stuff their “L’anse aux meadows” viking settlement, as our metal pre-dates theirs (by hundreds of years to boot!).

In general it’s good to be suspicious for grand and obscure claims.

As noted above, these kinds of things are a bit silly, because even if true, they don’t change any facts about “first effective settlement” (I don’t know which historian popularized this phrase, but I was taught it by the great historical geographer Peirce Lewis).

Edit: I thought that was almost certainly going to be the case, but the sword pictured is not the same one.

Could it be that the Roman sword was brought there by a Norseman? I mean - the presence of a Roman sword does not guarantee the presence of a Roman, only of someone who owns a Roman sword.

Read the article about how it was found. Its a second hand story of someone that supposedly found it when dredging for clams but then didn’t tell anyone about it until after their death. Eg there is no actual evidence it came from a wreck in Nova Scotia, as opposed to just being bought by someone from a collector in europe then they made up this story about it.

I don’t see how a Norseman would end up with an already 1000 years old Roman sword.

If the sword existence and origin was proven, it’s much more likely to have belonged to a Roman. As a previous poster stated it’s pretty much a given that over the centuries a number of ships accidentally drifted across the Atlantic or the Pacific to end up in the Americas. Some probably with survivors still onboard. It’s even possible that some people went there on purpose (Basque fishers have been often mentioned, for instance). it would make for intriguing trivia but wouldn’t change anything to the history of the continent, nor would it threaten the “mainstream establishment”.

This certainly isn’t the first report of Roman Stuff Found in America. There have been claims of Roman Coins and a Roman Cup (which I think is pictured in Charles Michael Boland’s 1963 book They All Discovered America. I think that that in most cases historians claim that the items are misidentified or misattributed, or were brought over not by Romans, but by Europeans in the last couple of hundred years.

I personally think it’s not impossible for European travelers to have come to America in the centuries before Columbus. But any such , not having started any colonies or done anything else of lasting impact, didn’t do anything that would make us reconsider our history. There weren’t any cultural contacts or influences of lasting value. If they exposed the local Americans to European diseases, it didn’t help them pass down any immunity (nor would I expect it to, unless the contact were sustained).

There’s also the Tecaxic-Calixtlahuaca head found in Mexico which some claim is Roman, and a guy who thinks he found Roman amphora in Brazil.

It must be true because Roman swords can only be left places by Romans during the Roman Empire. It would be impossible for a non-Roman to have obtained a Roman sword can carried it anywhere at any time. That, and all swords claimed to be Roman swords must be Roman swords, it’s not possible to be mistaken about something like that. Altogether this proves that Blackbeard was a Roman soldier. Thank Og for educational television.

See above, statistically its quite likely some Roman artefacts would wind up in the new world just by pure chance of drifting wrecks. Unless you find evidence of a Roman settlement then it means nothing.

In my youth, I did a tremendous amount of reading about Oak Island (I was fascinated by tales of pirates and buried treasure). As I understand it NOTHING was ever found at Oak Island, in over 200 years of digging and excavating. (There was a story that a small gold chain was found, but it was lost). Oak Island is a prime example of how otherwise intelligent people can be induced to spend fortunes , trying to find something that never existed (even Franklin D. Roosevelt got suckered in to thia).

Ix nay on finding othing-nay! If that info gets out the treasure pit will become nothing but a worthless hole in the ground and we won’t get to see people waste their lives looking for something that isn’t there any more.

I had a look at a photo of that sword in the linked article, and its style does not look strikingly early Roman. It could have been made at any time over the long, long life of the Empire.

I think the landings in Vinland were around the year 1000, right? Well, you could have your Average Bjorn inherit that sword from his grandpa who went to Constantinople to be a mercenary for, say, Constantine VII, and got a few cool things to bring to his family back in ol’Norway.

Average Bjorn then embarks on this new cool expedition to this new land - Vinland! Land of opportunity! Then, whoops, he got killed there.

I haven’t seen a thread specifically about the latest show, Curse of Oak Island, but I love casually watching it for two reasons:
[li]Like most Gen-Xers I was fascinated by it after the Spock-hosted series In Search Of… did an episode about it (I had actually read the old The Reader’s Digest article before that).[/li][li]Because it’s sort of like rubbernecking a car wreck.[/li][/ul]
As **botsgotme says, it’s mesmerizing watching intelligent, professional, otherwise successful people invest so much of their time and money into something that is, quite frankly, just a gigantic waste of time. It’s both funny and sad seeing The History Channel producers punch up all this boring bunch of nothingness with so many smash-edits and dramatic music and animated cutaways just to milk ever second of footage possible into a multi-year series! :smiley:

It could also be a fairly recent copy. It’s clearly not a gladius, it’s a one piece bronze casting, for decoration or ceremonial use. Some 19th century souvenir hunter could have bought it in Rome, then lost it. or it could be planted.

on eBay you can buy lots of antiquities like that. This is why such things are only worthwhile if found in-situ and there’s a chain of evidence.

So, the guy touting this sword is even admitting he got it second-hand, right? So provenance is just shattered - and he tries to use that as a selling point? I suppose, charitably, it could be a souvenir someone brought back from Italy 50 years ago…

…because i call bullshit on it being a genuine Roman artifact - I mean, the Romans didn’t use bronze swords of that shape. Sure, he bullshits it as “ceremonial”, but then where’s the gilding, fancy hilt and the other decoration? You don’t just cast a ceremonial sword out of cheap bronze, you fancify that shit up. This just looks like a cheap casting - flat bladed, not even any attempt to replicate the ridges or fullers of a real sword. Plus it has the hilt-shape (albeit Heliosed) of an antenna sword but the blade-shape of a late-period Pompeii gladius.

ETA - or, what DrDeth said.