Oh History Channel, what have you done? A ridiculously silly reality show that makes so many leaps the conclusions are not only ludicrous but laughable. The premise is the people in this show are trying to find the supposed lost treasure of the Knights Templar. There has been little or no evidence to support that such a treasure even existed, but we'll get to that later in this review. The players in this academic charade pick up an artifact at every turn and start making gross proclamations. But let's first discuss some of the bad history.
The only statement of fact which is true is that the Templars named themselves after the Great Jewish Temple in Jerusalem which was destroyed 66-70 CE (aka AD) in the infamous Roman Wars against the Jews. They probably discovered legends about the Temple (there were in fact two of them, the earlier one destroyed by the Babylonians circa 500 BCE) when knights were fighting to retake Jerusalem from Islam during the Crusades. This is probably the only true historical reality mentioned by this show. Almost all the rest of the assertions are an amalgamation of bad history or bogus conclusions.
Let's talk about the bad history. One of the claims was that Jesus was an Essene and Essenes buried people in ossuaries in Jerusalem. This gives rise to their "skull and bones" theory since the bones of the deceased were placed in the ossuary first and the skull on top. Their conclusion: this imagery was used by pirates in their skull and bones flags during the 17th century and is a direct link back to ancient times via the Knights Templar and later the Freemasons after circa 1600. Ridiculous. Firstly, the Essenes lived in caves apart from Jerusalem, and I don't know if they found graves there. The caves, known as Qumran is where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered. While scholars have found similarities in the rhetoric of Jesus and the Essenes, there is no evidence that Jesus was an Essene.
Also, just about every Jew living in Jerusalem during the first centuries BCE and CE buried their dead in ossuaries. The practice was so common, many ossuaries survive from Antiquity and plain examples can be bought for about $500. Current residences of Jerusalem use some of them for plotting plants! The idea that because traditionally the bones were placed beneath the skulls in these ossuaries and therefore that's a link to the "skull and bones" flags of pirates of the 17th and early 18th centuries is silly. It's similar to claims of the Shroud of Turin which purports to be the shroud of Christ, forgetting that no evidence of such a shroud is extant until circa the 14th century, which is when the Shroud is carbon-dated. (There is one document from the early Middle Ages about a shroud, but considering there were millions of them by the end of Antiquity, it's definitely reaching.)
And then we get to the evidence. In the show, some divers find some far eastern artworks from shipwreck off of the island of Madagascar. They start making these leaps that these artifacts are linked to the Templars! For one thing, they don't do any proper analysis to determine when these artifacts were created. And then they start making these huge leaps about how they connect with the Templars. Just because an artifact may have been found near the Temple Mount of Jerusalem or off the coast of Madagascar in no way proves they had anything to do with the Templars, even if they were created during the period. But many of these kinds of artifacts were also created during the 19th century.
This presentation was probably aimed at the same people who believe "The Da Vinci Code" is really a non-fiction book about Mary Magdalene! Did the Templars discover a hidden treasure underneath the Temple Mount (the Muslim Temple in Jerusalem)? I doubt whether they unearthed a hoard but might have found some things. The Templars increased their wealth mainly from donations from the Church and other monarchs. And they were also bankers! Scholars believe their increasing wealth and power scared the "powers that be" which is why the King of France at the time, King Philip.
Overall a very badly conceived and poorly presented show masquerading as a documentary. One of the History Channel's sillier efforts and definitely not recommended for those serious about history and artifacts. There are much better documentaries about the Templars including one by the History Channel produced over 10 years ago.
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