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Who Is Laird Niven: The Curse Of Oak Island's Expert Archaeologist Explained

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Niven’s history explains why he’s often less likely to lose it over every little discovery than some of the other team members — he’s used to slow, methodical archaeological work, where world-shattering discoveries are unlikely to turn up on a weekly basis. Knowing his long experience surveying Birchtown’s Black loyalist settlement also helps to understand why he’s temporarily a less prominent on-screen presence when “The Curse of Oak Island” brings in other archaeologists. He simply uses that time to focus on the line of investigation that involves surveying the estate of wealthy former slave Samuel Ball, which may not be quite as exciting for filming purposes but allows some breathing space and yields more artifacts than those recounted on the show.

Even when actual notable discoveries happen on the series, it’s not necessarily what you’d call Indiana Jones archaeology. When Niven discovers remnants of First Nations pottery on the island in Season 9, Nova Scotia’s Department of Communities, Culture and Heritage and the Acadia First Nation council soon force the archeologists to leave Oak Island and take over. Only Niven remains. 

After this incident, Niven has become more of an advisor than an active archaeologist — which, based on the number of his appearances after the incident, has freed up time from his surveying schedule and led to an increased screen presence. Whether he works away from the cameras or in front of them, Niven has carved out a crucial role on the team that’s tirelessly trying to find out the truth about Oak Island.