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The Curse of Oak Island

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What it’s about:

This enduring and popular History Channel series is part documentary, part reality-TV, and part big-prize giveaway show.

Why it’s worth your time:

While growing up in Michigan, brothers Rick and Marty Lagina read a story in Readers Digest about a treasure hunt on a small island off the coast of Nova Scotia. According to local legend, in 1795 several boys their age found a depression in the ground under a tree leading to a startling discovery.

Curious, they started digging, and every 10 feet down, they discovered another platform of oak logs. Some platforms were covered with blue clay, and, at the 90-foot level, there was a stone tablet with hieroglyphs. But lower, the shaft was booby trapped with flood tunnels. Over the centuries, several expeditions have attempted digs, and six men have died. “The Curse” is that a 7th must die before the Oak Island treasure can be found.

Fast forward to the Lagina brothers who have assembled a team that includes descendants of early search parties living on Oak Island, plus local and international experts in many fields, added to Marty and his partner Craig Tester’s considerable engineering know-how. They are determined to find what is alternately imagined to be Shakespeare’s lost manuscripts, Templar knights’ loot from the Crusades, Marie Antoinette’s jewelry, or Spanish pirates’ booty. But so far, whatever was worth burying so laboriously by hand, 100+ feet underground on little Oak Island, has eluded the massive digging and drilling equipment and ground-penetrating radar.

They do find stuff, however: pieces of leather, parchment, human bones, heavy hand-hewn timbers dated by dendrochronology to the 17th century.

The takeaway:

There is a lot of fascinating human history we don’t know. Over the years, the hunt has shifted subtly from seeking treasure to seeking answers: Who and why? For the audience, just sharing so many of the highs and lows of the team’s successes and disappointments has built a bond.

Watch it with:

Friends who are, or want to be, scientists and engineers, or fans of the old Hardy Boys mysteries.

Worth noting:

The producers are readying a new series. Oak Island seems about to wrap. Do they find the treasure?

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