First some clarity on the name and term usage during Swordgate. Hercules Sword is the global term we use to describe any and all of the swords in the inventory. The salient sword of interest that started this debunking effort was the example seen on the Curse of Oak Island TV show in season 3 at the end of 2015. This example goes by its specific inventory name of the Nova Scotia Sword and has the ID tag of 1J(c), meaning #1 in the inventory and a member of the sub group J(c). Find locations and finder or owner names have been used as the general approach for most inventory naming. The other term commonly used during Swordgate to link identity with the TV show and the related pseudo history nonsense from Jovan Philyaw, is the Oak Island Fake Roman Sword. Finally, just to be clear, these pseudo artifacts are not swords by any objective definition. They are souvenir collectables in the general shape of a sword and are referred to as swords only in a representative sense. If you are new to Swordgate please consider reviewing the full Swordgate blog category or visit the unofficial official Swordgate Youtube channel for more details.
We started the Swordgate odyssey with early comparative examples that hinted at some sort of relationship between swords. The now legendary J mark and supporting dots and ridges seen on early finds hinted at a grouping scenario. When the Curse of Oak Island TV show presented the definitive metallurgical results on the Nova Scotia Sword, identifying it as modern era copper and zinc alloy brass, it became a Swordgate blog and Facebook group challenge to identify the true origin story. Andy put a bounty on the table and the stakes were huge!
By the start of 2017, the primary working hypothesis that all brass swords are relatively recent souvenir collectables from Italy was rock solid. Characterization of the full inventory ultimately resulted in the first 2’ x 2’ poster version of the Timeline Morphology Model in April 2017. Version one was presented and distributed on Facebook and a subsequent summary was included in a video posted to the Youtube channel. The model presented six group types with two sub types, a timeline from the mid 1970s to present, and eight primary, seventeen secondary, and six tertiary morphologic indicators spread over each group type and sub type.
Over the summer of 2017 additional nuance and annotation has been incorporated. One additional secondary indicator and two additional tertiary indicators were added, and one indicator flip from secondary to primary has been done. One confirmed feature trend pattern is also added as a secondary indicator. Two more swords were added to the inventory and each fit nicely with established group types and lineage. The Timeline Morphology Model is now updated to version 2.0.
X for Xiphos / iron(?) / pre 1975(?)
F for Fuller (partial) / brass / n=3 / Rome / 1975-1980
T for Transitional / brass / n=2 / Rome / 1980-1983
J(c) for J Mark & Circle Mark / brass / n=3 / Rome / 1983-1987
J(r) for J Mark on Reverse of blade / brass / n=1 / Rome / 1987-1990
J for J Mark / brass / n=3 / Rome / 1990-1995
CS for Clean Sword / brass / n=7 / Pompeii / 1995-2008
I for Iron / iron / 2003 to present
CS2 for 2nd generation CS traits / brass / 2015 to present
F2 for 2nd generation F traits / brass / 2015 to present
The model’s primary, secondary, and tertiary indicators are presented on the poster with example pictures and annotations. Interpretation of the indicator features should be relatively straightforward and most have been discussed previously in the blog and on Facebook. Primary indicators are the single dominant feature consistent in the group type. The two sub types in group J have a consistent sub identifier. A mix of hilt and blade traits are used as primary indicators. Secondary indicators are also consistently seen in all examples in the group or sub type but clarity can vary. The secondary indicators are primarily related to hilt differences. Tertiary indicators are not necessarily seen in all examples in a group or sub type or more examples are felt to be needed for corroboration.
The model poster also presents a selection of enlargements for added clarity. Annotation providing characterization of the main Italian brass period and the more current iron and polished brass pieces is also included. The Nova Scotia Sword is illustrated at full scale with annotation for added context, and the most current and unique sword from Italy is illustrated at full scale for interest and comparison.
The timeline distinctly shows the early Italian brass sword years, 1975-1995, reflecting Rome as the known market for Types F,T,J(c), J(r), and J, and later years of 1995-2008 reflecting the Pompeii market for Type CS. More current iron swords and the most modern brass sword examples from Italy are noted as 2003 and 2015 respectively with regard to original retail date. The distinct largest sword identified, Type X, has been inserted as the possible earliest sword based on a combination of morphology clues.
The Italian tourist market brass swords representing the span from 1975 to 2008 are the critical comparative examples for the purpose of determining the origin of the Nova Scotia Sword. The Timeline Morphology Model identifies the Nova Scotia Sword in the span of ca.1983-ca.1987 and it is sourced to the souvenir trade in Rome.
Many thanks and congratulations are extended to all the Swordgaters that crowdsourced the finds, the data, and that provided discussion used to build the knowledge base for the model. We can all split the reward and reap the glory. There are still a few unanswered questions that linger and some fine tuning that can occur, but a well played battle has been won.
Stay tuned for the unofficial official Swordgate Poster v6.0 update that will present the full sword inventory (we’ve hit 25!) with summaries of the primary hypothesis, 3D analysis, hilt design, metallurgy, morphometrics, and bivalve mold casting.
Keep it real. Keep it Swordgate.