Two of the new arrivals on Season 10 of Curse of Oak Island (COOI) are the stone well down by the shoreline that the team claims is 900 years old, and what the team are calling The Blob, an area near the garden shaft that is supposed to be the source of the gold and silver found in some of the groundwater samples. Now, the team are also claiming that traces of copper, tin, and zinc in the Blob’s groundwater could be indications that the treasure contains relics.
Let`s evaluate those two claims, and see what we know and what we don’t know about them.
Over the past few episodes, Laird and the archaeology team have been excavating a stone-lined pit feature very near the shore of the island, which seems to be located in some wetlands that look like they are periodically flooded by the sea.
The Well. Photo courtesy of Reddit user Stormbash
This is actually a very interesting feature, and I hope we find out more about it. The COOI team (not the archaeology team, as far as I know) gives a date for the well about 1100 AD, or about 900 years ago. This is based on a carbon date. However, from what I understand, the date was taken on a twig found at the bottom of the pit.
Dating pit features is notoriously difficult. As you dig a pit, you expose older and older surfaces. So material found at the bottom of a pit doesn’t tell you much about the age of the pit itself. It just tells you the age of the oldest layer you uncovered while digging your pit.
Even worse, once the pit is dug, things can fall into it. They can accumulate at the bottom, which gives you a strange collection of ages if you start dating everything you find in there. In a place like Oak Island, which is heavily disturbed, dug up, and churned all over, materials of all kinds of ages can end up on the surface, and can then fall into the bottom of a pit.
The most promising approach for dating a pit is to date material that is in the layer from which the pit originates, i.e. the ground surface at the time the pit was dug in the first place, hopefully from the top of the wall of the pit itself, but somewhere close will help too.
Unfortunately, this particular pit seems to originate at the present-day surface. So if it was dug a long time ago, it has been maintained since, which would make it difficult to date. If you have to dig through 30 cm of ground and then you start finding an old pit, you have a hope of dating it.
Based on the information presented on the show, we can’t say with any kind of certainty that the pit is 900 years old. It could be 900 years old, but no evidence has been presented on the show that it actually is.
But is it a well? It could be. It could be all kinds of other stuff. I hope some day we get better data from the actual archaeological reports that will come out of this project. In the meantime, with the information available to us, all I can say with confidence is that it is a stone-lined pit that fills with water, and that its age is undetermined.
In Season 10, an area just off the garden shaft has been presented as the source of the various gold and silver ‘anomalies’ in the ground water on Oak Island. I have already commented on those anomalies. In my opinion, no information has been presented on the show to suggest that the gold and silver concentrations are above normal background levels.
Now the team have doubled down on this and suggested that there are also elevated values of copper, tin, and zinc in the groundwater of the Blob. As far as I know, they have not presented actual concentrations, so I am unable to evaluate that claim. They have said that this could suggest that the treasure contains not only gold and silver pieces, but also relics and other artefacts.
That is one of the key differences between a science project and what they are doing on Oak Island. In academic science, we try to evaluate claims, and we share all the information we think our audience will need to evaluate our claims for themselves.
Sometimes we forget something, or we don’t think of providing a piece of information, or we just get the interpretation plain wrong. Our colleagues evaluate our claims and ask for any additional information they might need. We provide it if we have it, and if we don’t, we try to get it.
That doesn’t happen on a show like COOI, so it is often impossible to evaluate their claims. ‘Trust me, Bro’ is not a step in the scientific method.
In this case, even if it turns out to be true that there are elevated levels of copper, tin, and zinc in the Blob, there would be at least one alternative explanation other than the presence of relics in a treasure chamber.
People have been famously searching for treasure on Oak Island for at least 150 years, and perhaps a bit more. Much of that searcher activity involved copper and zinc fittings for building shafts, boilers, and all kinds of other implements made of tin bronze and brass. The COOI team have themselves recovered a number of those pieces all over the money pit area and the Blob.
All these have been churned along with the rest of the island, and much of that stuff is still underground in collapsed tunnels, pits, and shafts. Because it is a simpler and more likely explanation than a hidden treasure, I would want to rule that out as a source for the claimed anomalies before doing anything else on that front.
That’s another important characteristic of the work we do. We try to think of alternatives to our claims and explanations, and we try to rule those out. We try to prove we’re wrong about something, more often than we try to prove we’re right.
10 thoughts on “Curse of Oak Island Archaeology Update: Is there a 900 year old well on the island, and are there relics in the Blob?”
I always am interested in your analysis of info. I find the “treasure” intriguing, but I am enthralled with the historical information we are seeing. Soooo- will you be very surprised if they do not find some kind of treasure on the island, or are you open to the idea that there still could be a treasure buried there?
What I can say is that I have seen no evidence of a treasure, either in the historical or archaeological information presented on the show so far. If that evidence comes up, of course I will evaluate it, and if there is a treasure, great for them 🙂
But based on the information available right now, I would say it is extremely, very highly unlikely that there is one. Could there be? Yes, there could be.
When you get right down to it, even the original tale seems rather idiotic. I mean… again… who buries the Ark of the Covenant and leaves a tackle block hanging over it from a tree limb. If that was ever the case… and I seriously doubt it ever was, as there is absolutely no historical record of anything related to treasure on Oak Island until a treasure license was sought in 1849 (that year ring a bell?), wouldn’t the more logical assumption be that something was dug up and taken, rather than deposited. So yeah, there never really was a valid reason for people to suspect anything of value was ever hidden there.
Considering that Oak Island was owned by fishing agents out of New York in the middle of the 1700’s prior to being divided up later that century for landowners to farm, I wonder if that “well” is actually some sort of livewell, for bait perhaps. Not for the fishing agents, but for the landowners who lived on the water.
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Yes, and the fishing connection is pretty obvious, given some of the remains on the island. And also not surprising at all.
All of the metals they are finding in the groundwater are either found in the anhydrite (tin, copper, zinc) under the island, or in the surrounding Goldenville formations (gold, silver) – the Gold River is immediately up the coast. Between the erodable anhydrite (accelerated by the earthworks/tunneling on the island) and the constant input from the Gold River since the last ice age, it would be hard to believe that these metals were not present in the groundwater of the island. There also would have been impacts from salt water intrusion from all of the pumping underground, accelerating the erosion of the anhydrite and the mixing of salt/fresh water moving in/out of suspended/dissolved metals.
Those metals definitely are present naturally. What I am saying is that even if they were present in more than background concentrations, you would still need to rule out searcher junk as a search before you concluded that it could be evidence of treasure.
The theory is that the 2 guys from NY had an illegal salt operation on the island – xplains the “finger drains” and some of the other odd things on the island. Explains the old tar kiln as well, given these guys would had been operating from the island and would have had many boats in service. And this all was prior to the 1760’s subdivision of the island RE the Shoreham Land Grant.
I asked CHATGPT a question:
Q: How can we get more conclusive dating evidence for the stone-lined pit feature?
A: Some ways to get more conclusive dating evidence for the stone-lined pit feature include:
• Date materials from the intact layers surrounding the pit, not just materials found at the bottom of the pit. Materials in the surrounding layers are more likely to date to the time when the pit was originally dug.
• Date multiple samples from different areas and depths in and around the pit. This can help account for the disturbance and mixing of materials, and look for consistent dates.
• Use multiple dating methods, not just radiocarbon dating. Methods like optically stimulated luminescence dating and analyzing the styles of artifacts or pottery fragments could provide corroborating evidence.
• Provide more details on the dating methods, samples, and results. This level of transparency would allow other experts to evaluate the strength of the evidence and conclusions.
I think AI know more than they do. lol
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That a pretty good answer 🙂
Well, that’s it for my blog. I guess I can shut it down now 🙂
ChatGPT isn’t the product. You are. Simply another way for you to be categorized as your questions can be quite revealing. Where this goes? Anywhere. Best avoided, in my view.
Did anyone else notice how when they spoke of gold in their sampling, they showed a graph with a huge spike in the middle as their technician claimed it was out of the ordinary. Quite disingenuous. I did pause the screen when their paper results were shown. Seemed to be .01%-.04%. Alas, not the huge spike I’m afraid.