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The Roman sword found just off Oak Island.

Unraveling the Origins of the Roman Sword Discovered Off Oak Island


Last month, we reported on the startling discovery of a Roman ceremonial sword off Oak Island, located on the south shore of Nova Scotia, Canada, radically suggesting that ancient mariners visited North America more than a thousand years before Columbus. While the announcement was largely met with surprise and excitement, many have also questioned the authenticity of the artifact. Here we explore the origins of the mysterious Roman sword.

Discovery of the Roman Sword

The finding of the Roman sword off Oak Island, which was originally announced by Johnston Press and published in The Boston Standard, was revealed by researchers involved in The History Channel’s series Curse of Oak Island, which details the efforts of two brothers from Michigan as they attempt to solve the mystery of the Oak Island treasure and discover historical artifacts believed to be concealed on the island.

Oak Island, Nova Scotia

Main: Oak Island, Nova Scotia. Credit: Farhad Vladia / Panoramio. Inset: The Roman sword found in water just off the mysterious Oak Island, Nova Scotia. Credit: and National Treasure Society

J. Hutton Pulitzer, lead researcher and historic investigator, along with academics from the Ancient Artifact Preservation Society, have compiled a paper on the finding, which is scheduled to be published in full in early 2016.

According to Pulitzer, a shipwreck, believed to be Roman, was found off Oak Island, and within the wreck a well-preserved Roman ceremonial sword was retrieved. 

Pulitzer told the Boston Standard that the sword was hauled onto a fishing boat decades ago, but was kept secret because the finder and his son feared they would be punished due to strict laws in Nova Scotia regarding retrieving treasures from shipwrecks. 

However, relatives of the finder, who is now deceased, recently came forward to reveal the precious sword to researchers. 

A close-up of the sword found off Oak Island.

A close-up of the sword found off Oak Island. Photo courtesy of and National Treasure Society

Verifying Authenticity

In his blog article ‘How can a sword cut history?’, Pultizer states that the sword underwent various analyses, including XRF testing, and has been verified by the Roman Antiquities authority as a gladiator ceremonial votive sword. XRF testing (X-ray fluorescence) is a proven technique for material analysis, including metals. The results found the same arsenic and lead signature in the metal of the sword, down to the atomic level, as that found in other ancient Roman artifacts.

Interestingly, the sword was also found to have magnetic qualities, causing it to point true north, a navigational feature built into some swords of the era through the use of lodestones. Ancient peoples were aware of the magnetic properties of lodestones from as early as the 6 th century BC. Cast iron replicas of Roman swords do not possess such characteristics.

“History shows many such items were given out by the Emperor to legion commanders, possibly as “protection, strength, and guidance of Hercules” prior to entering into battle or departing on a special mission,” reports Pultizer. “When such ceremonial swords were made they used solid cast, then hand crafted using a lost wax technique, and lastly gilded with gold like various Egyptian artifacts, making them very rare and highly prized.”

The Roman sword found off Oak Island is believed to be part of a rare set of votive swords. Four similar swords having been recovered and verified, now in private collections and museums, including the Museum of Naples, Italy, which issued cast iron replicas of the sword. Many replicas of these rare swords can now be found on websites such as eBay and Amazon.

Cast iron replica from the Naples Museum

Cast iron replica from the Naples Museum (Design Toscano)

Symbolism of the Sword

Arts and antiquities collector and researcher David Xavier Kenney, has extensively studied the features and symbology of one of the Roman votive swords belonging to the same set, currently owned by a private collector in the Netherlands and dated to between 190 to 192 AD.

According to Kenney, the sword hilt depicts a statuette holding a piece of driftwood, tree trunk, branch or club overhead, ready to destroy a shrine that includes a type of Irminsul of the north (pillar that played an important role in Germanic paganism) associated with solar worship.

Roman votive sword studied by David Xavier Kenney, dated to 190 to 192 AD.

Roman votive sword studied by David Xavier Kenney, dated to 190 to 192 AD. Credit: David Xavier Kenney.

Connection with North America

Kenney maintains that the symbolism of the sword may reflect an ancient belief that there was a legendary or mythical sacred island to the far north in the west that was associated with a meteor strike, the magnetic, the water compass, navigation, and solar worship.

“Most likely much of that belief was based on ancient sea lore about visitations to Iceland and Greenland - that traveled among peoples who did not have a known, or accepted, written language,” writes Kenney.

“Further study in relation to this sword was initially prompted by my findings in 2008 that suggested that some of the sword's symbolism appears to have been connected to the North Atlantic Ocean,” adds Kenney. “I did additional studies in December 2012 on a Roman metal votive artifact found in West Virginia, then a bit more in August of 2014 researching an ancient Native American stone tool/Roman votive artifact from Pennsylvania. Symbolism contained on both of those artifacts appear to indicate at least a Roman knowledge of the Cape York meteorite in Greenland, and possibly with a keen interest.”

Evidence to Support Roman Presence in North America

In an attempt to dismiss skeptics, who may suggest the artifact had simply fallen off the side of a boat in more recent times, Pultizer and his team have dug up numerous other pieces of evidence to support the theory that the Romans made it to the New World more than 1,000 years before Christopher Columbus.  This includes DNAbotanicallinguistic, stone symbols, archaeoastronomystructure and architectural evidence, artifacts including coins,  burial mounds, and a Roman shipwreck — where the Oak Island sword was found.

“When you put all these things together and you look at the anomalies, it’s not a coincidence,” Pultizer told the Boston Standard. “The plants, the DNA, the artifacts, the language, the ancient drawings - you have something that deserves to be taken seriously.”

Featured image: The Roman sword found just off Oak Island. Photo courtesy of and National Treasure Society

By: April Holloway



It is Fake made out of Brass. It was NEVER made in Ancient Rome.

I believe that the “Roman” artifacts found off Oak Island are a hoax perpetrated by J. Hutton Pulitzer.

There are several reasons why I believe this:

Roman ceremonial swords were used during the Holy Roman Empire, not by the original Romans.

Pulitzer has not produced the sword to experts for testing. All we have ae his claims that it was tested.

The site of the sunken Roman ship has not been excavated even though he claims that the site is known to the Nova Scotia authorities. This makes no sense. While it is true that there  are dozens of wrecks off the coast that have not been excavated, most date to the 18th to 20th century. If a wreck of a Roman ship was discovered, not only would the Nova Scotians be interested, archaeologists would fight for the opportunity to excavate such a find.

I doubt that Pulitzer has any historical knowledge except for what he may have read. Otherwise, he would not keep dodging the questions concerning his credentials.

Pulitzer changed his name. He claims that it was because of a stalker who began stalking him after he hosted a show called Net Talk Live! in the Dallas West End Marketplace. He claims that a man in the audience pointed a laser pointer at his forehead during the show. However, as far as I been able to discover, these claims were never substantiated. Even though he states that several people got a “good look” at the guy, he has never provided names of these witnesses.

Pulitzer is very defensive whenever questioned about either his find or the name change. An example is

In The petroglyph that Pulitzer states shows marching Roman legionnaires, the image could depict the “Pilum” carried by Roman soldier, it could also depict stone age hunters going on a hunt with their spears.

I could probably think of other reasons if I decide to dwell on the subject but I think my point is explained.


However, I do agree with Pulitzer in that “experts” in the field of archeology are not willing to even consider alternative theories to what we have been taught. The idea that ALL anomalous finds were dropped by “modern” collectors in recent times is laughable.


The sword was already proven to be modern

According to the tests run by professors in Halifax, they felt the sword was not authentic (as reported on the Curse of Oak Island tv show). Were the tests mentioned in this article, after the tests shown on the tv show? According to those experts, the type of casting and the metallurgical makeup of the sword pointed more toward something made in the 1940's. They said the metallurgy of the brass did not match the brass of the Roman era.

Maybe nobody could tell that after Columbus discover America, maybe during those time somebody from Rome or Roman person brought that sword went to Oak Island and left that sword there. Now, somebody said that Romans was first who went in America and discover the place. Well, there lots of opinion occurs or versions might be correct, we don't know....


aprilholloway's picture


April Holloway is a Co-Owner, Editor and Writer of Ancient Origins. For privacy reasons, she has previously written on Ancient Origins under the pen name April Holloway, but is now choosing to use her real name, Joanna Gillan.

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