Photos: Mummies and Figurines Discovered in Ancient Cemetery at Luxor

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Photos: Mummies and Figurines Discovered in Ancient Cemetery at Luxor

Artifacts from tomb

Credit: Photo courtesy Egypt’s Ministry of Antiquities


Credit: Photo courtesy Egypt’s Ministry of Antiquities

2,300-Year-Old Cemetery with Mummy Priests Found in Egypt

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2,300-Year-Old Cemetery with Mummy Priests Found in Egypt

2,300-Year-Old Cemetery with Mummy Priests Found in Egypt

At least 40 limestone sarcophagi that held mummified burials were discovered in the cemetery. One of them is pictured here.

Credit: Egyptian Antiquities Ministry

Archaeologists have discovered a 2,300-year-old underground cemetery that holds burials of the mummified remains of priests who worshipped the god Thoth. One priest was found wearing an amulet that said “Happy New Year” in Egyptian hieroglyphics.

In ancient Egypt, priests presided over religious ceremonies and rituals dedicated to the god or goddess they worshipped.

Discovered at the ancient Egyptian site of Tuna el-Gebel, to the west of the Nile River, the cemetery contains numerous burial shafts, and archaeologists expect the excavations will take about five years to complete, said Egyptian antiquities minister Khaled El-Enany during a press conference on Feb. 24.

“We found at least 40 sarcophagi,” in addition to large amounts of pottery, jewelry, ‘lucky charms’ [artifacts meant to bring good luck] and over 1,000 shabti figurines, El-Enany said. Shabti figurines are often found in ancient Egyptian burials and were meant to do the work of the deceased in the afterlife, Egyptologists generally believe.

More than 1,000 shabti figurines, many of them made out of faience, were discovered in the cemetery. Shabtis are often found in ancient Egyptian burials to do the work of the deceased in the afterlife.

More than 1,000 shabti figurines, many of them made out of faience, were discovered in the cemetery. Shabtis are often found in ancient Egyptian burials to do the work of the deceased in the afterlife.

Credit: Egyptian Antiquities Ministry

Though archaeologists don’t know the identities of all the deceased, they know at least some of the burials belong to priests who worshipped Thoth, the god who ancient Egyptians believed was the inventor of writing.

One mummy, thought to be a high priest of Thoth, was found with an inscription saying that his name is “Djehuty-Irdy-Es,” the antiquities ministry said in a statement. His mummy was decorated with a bronze collar in the shape of the Egyptian sky goddess Nut. Numerous blue and red beads also decorated his mummy; inside the coffin, archaeologists also found four amulets, one of which was engraved with Egyptianhieroglyphics that translate to “Happy New Year.”

This canopic jars held the inner organs of one of the mummies discovered in the cemetery.

This canopic jars held the inner organs of one of the mummies discovered in the cemetery.

Credit: Egyptian Antiquities Ministry

The date of the ancient Egyptian New Year varied, but around 2,300 years ago, it often took place in July, many scholars believe.

Archaeologists from Cairo University have been excavating the many cemeteries at Tuna el-Gebel for about 80 years. In 2017, they discovered another cemetery at the site that contained a series of underground catacombs. Both the 2017 and 2018 excavations were led by Mostafa Waziri, the Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities.

Originally published on Live Science.

What Would Happen if a Massive Solar Storm Hit the Earth?

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What Would Happen if a Massive Solar Storm Hit the Earth?

We all know that major storms can wreak havoc, flooding cities and decimating infrastructure. But there’s an even bigger worry than wind and rain: space weather. If a massive solar storm hit us, our technology would be wiped out. The entire planet could go dark.

“We’re much more reliant on technology these days that is vulnerable to space weather than we were in the past,” Thomas Berger, director of theSpace Weather Prediction Center at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration told Gizmodo. “If we were hit by an extreme event today, it’d be very difficult to respond.”

“Solar storm” is a generic term used to describe a bunch of stuff the Sun hurls our way, including x-rays, charged particles, and magnetized plasma. A massive solar storm hasn’t hit the Earth since the mid-19th century, but space weather scientists are very worried about the possibility of another.

Solar Flares

A solar storm usually starts with a solar flare — a giant explosion on the surface of the sun that sends energy and particles streaming off into space. Small, C-class flares occur all the time and are too weak to affect the Earth, while mid-sized M-class flares can produce minor radio disruptions. X-class flares, meanwhile, are the largest explosions in the solar system, releasing up to a billion hydrogen bombs worth of energy. These eruptions occur very rarely, but when they do, they’re an epic sight.

One of the most powerful flares measured with modern instruments took place during a solar maximum in 2003. It was so large it maxed out our satellite sensors, which registered an X-28 (28 types larger than an X-1 flare, which itself is 10 times greater than an M1 flare). Here’s what that event looked like:

The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) spacecraft captured this epic solar flare in 2003. Image credit: ESA / NASA – SOHO

Despite observing flares for over a century, scientists still aren’t totally sure what causes the Sun to erupt. We do know that flares have a lot to do with disruptions in the Sun’s powerful magnetic field, which oscillates over the course of an 11-ish year solar cycle.

“Solar storms originate in magnetic features that erupt from the surface of the sun,” explained space weather scientist Joe Gurman, speaking to Gizmodo from NASA’s Goddard Spaceflight Center. “We call these active regions, or sunspots. When they’re big and ugly, that’s an indication that the magnetic field is changing rapidly. And when the magnetic field changes rapidly, that appears to be the cause — or related to the cause — of solar activity.”

A mid- to large-sized solar flare would send waves of high energy radiation — x rays and ultraviolet light — zipping toward the Earth. These types of radiation are powerful enough to rip electrons off of atoms. That’s exactly what they start doing when they hit the upper portion of our atmosphere, known as the ionosphere. Basically, the sky gets zapped with a giant electromagnetic pulse. But according to Berger, even the biggest flares don’t impact humans very much.

“It’s a huge EM pulse that roils up the ionosphere, causing it to expand out,” Berger said. “But the solar flare really doesn’t damage technology.”

The one exception is radio. Radio signals between the Earth and orbiting satellites can be blocked when the atmosphere becomes too charged.

“Radio communications are sometimes impacted,” Berger noted. “Over the horizon radio becomes difficult. When airplanes are flying over the poles, the only way they communicate with control centers is high frequency radio waves bouncing over the continents. But it’s just a temporary difficulty lasting ten minutes to hours at the most.”

An X-class flare captured by NASA on March 6th, 2012. Image Credit: NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center / Flickr

We don’t have a great way of forecasting solar flares, and they hit the Earth too quickly for NOAA to provide airline companies with advance notice (it takes about eight minutes for sunlight to reach us).

“The only thing we can do is issue an alert when we see one,” Berger said. “Airlines are very interested in flare effects on high frequency communications, and if there’s a really large event, they’ll consider grounding flights.”

If you’re not an airline operator, you pretty much get to sit this one out. But don’t forget to check out the amazing images over at NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory every now and then.

Charged Particles

Minutes to hours after a solar flare lights up the sky, a stream of charged particles — electrons and protons — arrive at the Earth. They bombard the magnetosphere, a protective envelope around Earth created by our magnetic field. “We see the radiation level go up sometimes, which can indicate that particles are impinging on Earth’s orbit,” said Berger.

Charged particles falling into Earth’s atmosphere contribute to the northern lights. Image Credit: Adam Woodworth

Occasionally, a large pulse of charged particles will hit orbiting satellites and damage their electronics. Particle radiation is also a big health risk for humans in space.

“We do have to worry about energetic particles on the ISS,” Gurman said. “If we ever get to the point of being a spacefaring race, they’re going to become a much bigger concern.”

But by and large, the effects of solar particle radiation are buffered by the magnetosphere and atmosphere. It’s what’s coming next that you and me on the ground need to worry about.

Coronal Mass Ejections

When the Sun flares up, it sometimes shoots a giant cloud of magnetized plasma off into space. This is called a coronal mass ejection (CME). CMEs are the slowest form of solar weather, taking anywhere from 12 hours to several days to reach the Earth. They’re also by far the most dangerous.

Fortunately, because CMEs are slow moving, our space weather forecasters have a little more time to anticipate them. They examine images of the Sun, pulled from the SOHO and STEREO satellites. When our observatories see something big, NOAA responds.

Berger outlined what happens next: “A watch is issued when we see something happen on the Sun headed toward the Earth. Typically if there’s a large CME, something major we think could impact the Earth, we put out a watch.”

A CME will shoot pretty much straight out from the Sun, and there’s always a good chance that the Earth won’t end up in its path. If a CME is coming straight at us, it’ll first hit NASA’s ACE satellite, located at the L1 Lagrange point roughly a million miles in front of the Earth. If that happens, we’ve got anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour before a cloud of plasma rains down from above, interacting with our planet’s magnetosphere and triggering a geomagnetic storm.

That’s when you start to see effects on the power grid.

Artist’s depiction of the solar wind colliding with Earth’s magnetosphere. Image Credit: NASA / Wikimedia

“This generates huge electrical currents in upper atmosphere of Earth,” Berger said. “Depending on how conductive the ground is, you can get large currents getting picked up by power stations and fed into the grid.” And that’s bad news, because “our grid isn’t designed for huge amounts of current coming out of the ground.”

Geomagnetic storm strength is measured in “disturbance storm time” or Dst, which essentially describes how hard a CME shakes up Earth’s magnetic field. Ordinary storms, which cause the northern lights to flare up but otherwise don’t impact us, register somewhere in the neighborhood of Dst = -50 nT (nanoTesla). The worst geomagnetic storm of the space age, which knocked out power across Quebec in March of 1989, registered a Dst = -600 nT.

But even that 1989 storm looks puny in comparison to the Carrington event, a geomagnetic storm that zapped the Earth 156 years ago. At the time, the damage wasn’t too bad. But a Carrington-sized storm today could spell disaster.

Monster Storms

The Carrington event of September, 1859 is named for Richard Carrington, the English astronomer who saw the sun flare up with his own eyes. In the days following Carrington’s observation, a series of powerful CMEs hit the Earth head-on, igniting the northern lights as far south as Cuba. Currents electrified telegraph lines, shocked technicians, set telegraph papers on fire, and caused widespread communications outages.

Modern estimates for the strength of this storm range from Dst = -800 nT to -1750 nT.

Things stand to get really dark up in here the next time a Carrington-sized storm hits. Image Credit: NASA Earth Observatory

Human society is far more reliant on electricity today than it was 156 years ago. Berger pointed out that today we have pipelines, electrical transmission grids, and a lot more ground-based electrical conduction technology. So, what would happen if a Carrington-sized event struck us now? Pretty much ever aspect of the modern world would take a hit, according to a report by the National Academies of Sciences.

The ground currents induced by large geomagnetic storms can melt the copper windings of transformers that lie at the heart of power distribution systems. If this happens, it can lead to massive power outages. And because our power grid has grown much more interconnected over time, the effects of such an outage today could be spread far and wide.

A map showing the at-risk transformer capacity by state for a 4800 nT/min geomagnetic field disturbance. Regions with high percentages of at-risk capacity could experience long-duration outages extending for several years. Image Credit: J. Keppenman, Metatech Corp

It’s hard to overstate just how much this would uproot our lives. The lights would of course go out, as would the internet, and any device that draws current from the wall. In places with electronically-controlled municipal water supplies — like most modern cities — toilets and sewage treatment systems would stop working. Heating and air conditioning would fail. Perishable food and medication would be lost. ATMs would be useless. Gas pumps would go offline. And so forth.

GPS technology would also be knocked out. Said Grunman, “The GPS system depends on the very precise timing of a course of signals between two points, like a spacecraft and your phone. If you dump a bunch of energetic particles into the atmosphere, that effects your GPS. Which is sobering when you consider the replacement of old aircraft landing technology with GPS.”

Some of these effects could last years, and they’d be felt globally. “The entire magnetic field of the Earth is changing, so the entire Earth feels it,” said Berger.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

It’s hard to fathom the social consequences of billions of power-hungry humans suddenly being pulled off the grid, but I think we can all agree it wouldn’t be pretty. What we do know for sure is that the economic toll would be enormous. The National Academies report estimates that total cost of a Carrington-sized event today could exceed $2 trillion dollars — 20 times greater than the cost of Hurricane Katrina.

It’s important to keep in mind that we aren’t talking about some incredibly far-fetched, Armageddon-style apocalypse situation here. In fact, in July of 2012, a massive CME ripped through Earth’s orbit and narrowly missed us. That event, which was picked up by NASA’s STEREO-A satellite, would have registered a Dst of -1200 nT — comparable to the Carrington event.

“If it had hit, we would still be picking up the pieces,” space weather scientist Daniel Baker of the University of Colorado told NASA in 2014. “How many other [storms] of this scale have just happened to miss Earth and our space detection systems? This is a pressing question that needs answers.”

Are We Dead in the Water?

Hopefully we can enact some smart mitigation policies before the techno-pocalypse befalls us. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Thanks to a growing army of space weather observatories, we’re much better able to predict CMEs than we were 20 years ago. Still, most space weather scientists agree that if a massive solar storm struck today, we’d be pretty screwed. But we’re trying to change that.

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy has assembled a task force to explore ways of responding to extreme events. Berger said that they have a national space weather strategy due out in October. The strategy will outlines what the US needs to do to be “better prepared.”

Berger couldn’t comment on the specifics of the policy strategy, so we’ll have to check in again this fall. He did hint that it would be heavy on the recommendations for power suppliers. (Currently, power companies respond to large solar storm warnings by re-routing power distribution around transformers.)

In the meanwhile, what can a space weather-conscious Earthling do? Most of the usual disaster preparedness advice applies. Build an emergency supply kit.Have a plan for getting in touch with loved ones should the phones fail. Keep your car tank at least half full of gasoline. Keep extra batteries on hand, or purchase a solar or hand-crank charger. Back up your data. Make sure you’ve got plenty of spare crowbars — wait, no, that’s the zombie apocalypse.

And of course, you can keep up with the latest solar storm warnings over atNOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center.

Sources: NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center, NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory, “Solar Flares: What does it take to be X-Class?”, “Observations of an extreme storm in interplanetary space caused by successive coronal mass ejections”, “A massive solar eruptive event in July 2012: Defining extreme space weather scenarios”, “Severe space weather events: Understanding the societal and economic impacts”

Contact the author at or follow her on Twitter.

Top image: NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center /Flickr

Animals up-close

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Animals up-close

Photographers allow us to get up-close and personal with animals all around the world.
A rhino baby, not named yet, walks outside for the first time with her mother Naima at Blijdorp Zoo in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, Jan. 4. The rhinoceros baby was born on Dec. 28. (Remko de Waalde Waal/EPA/Shutterstock)
Cub panda Yuan Meng plays with its mother Huan Huan inside its new enclosure at The Beauval Zoo in Saint-Aignan-sur-Cher, central France on Jan 12.. The female panda gave birth to twins on Aug. 4, 2017, but one died soon afterwards. Nine-year-old Huan Huan and her male partner Yuan Zi arrived at Beauval zoo in January 2012 on a 10-year loan from China after intense, high-level negotiations between Paris and Beijing. Huan Huan (meaning “happy”) and Yuan Zi (”chubby”) are the only giant pandas living in France. Breeding pandas is notoriously difficult and this is the first time a cub has been born in France. (GUILLAUME SOUVANT/AFP/Getty Images)
A sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus) hunts at a bird feeder near Pomaz, 23 kms north of Budapest, Hungary, Jan. 2. (ATTILA KOVACS/EPA/Shutterstock)
An Asiatic lion (Panthera leo persica) at the zoo in Heidelberg, Germany, Jan. 9. (RONALD WITTEK/EPA/Shutterstock)
A submerged Hippo is seen at the Joburg Zoo in Johannesburg, South Africa, Jan.11. The Joburg Zoo is an 55-hectare (140-acre) zoo established in 1904 and houses about 2000 animals of 320 species. (KIM LUDBROO/EPA/Shutterstock)
Khansa, an eight-month-old critically endangered Bornean orangutan shows off it’s two front-teeth, at the Singapore Zoo on Jan. 11 in Singapore. The Singapore Zoo is active with its breeding programs as part of its wildlife preservation efforts. (Wong Maye-E/Associated Press)
Pama, a female elephant, eats at the Wilhelma Zoo in Stuttgart, southern Germany. (SEBASTIAN GOLLNOW/AFP/Getty Images)
Lion cubs are presented in the zoo in Gdansk, Poland, Jan. 4. Three males and one female were born at the end of the Dec. 2017. Currently, the lion family in Gdansk’s zoo have five males and five females. Lion cubs in zoo in Gdansk, Poland. (Adam Warzawa/EPA/Shutterstock)
The eyes of a Siberian Husky dog in Sokolniki Park in Moscow on Jan. 13. (MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)
A tolypeutes rolls itself up in the hands of a keeper at a zoo in Muenster, western Germany on Jan. 5. Tolypeutes are the only armadillos which can roll themselves up in case of danger. (BERND THISSEN/AFP/Getty Images)
Templeton the pig roams at Cozy Critters Farm near Sour Lake, Texas. Rural animals continue to face issues of parasites, bacteria and trauma from Hurricane Harvey. (Guiseppe Barranco/The Beaumont Enterprise via AP)
A great tit bird flaps its wings in the village of Troitskoye, outside Moscow, on Jan. 14. (YURI KADOBNOV/AFP/Getty Images)
A red fox (Vulpes vulpes) in its enclosure at a wildlife park in Frankfurt, Germany. (PATRICK PLEUL/AFP/Getty Images)
An Asian small-clawed otter, the smallest otter species in the world, feeds on fish in its enclosure at the Singapore Zoo on Jan. 11 in Singapore. (Wong Maye-E/Associated Press)
A Rosy Pelican allopreens at Alipoor zoo enclosure in Calcutta, India. (PIYAL ADHIKAR/EPA/Shutterstock)
Villagers (unseen) bring a buffalo for a fight on the occasion of the Magh Bihu festival in Morigaon district of Assam state, India, Jan. 15. Although the Supreme Court has banned animal fights in some parts of the country, yet the restriction has seemingly no takers in Assam. People of Assam have organized the popular buffalo fights on the occasion of the Annual Magh Bhihu festival throughout the state. According to media reports, many of the organizers of such buffalo fights insisted that they cannot forego the age-old traditions of the Bihu Festival and they always ensure no animals are injured. (EPA/Shutterstock)
Dog “Neske” has snow in its face on Nov. 26, near Hofsgrund on the Schauinsland mountain in the Black Forest, southwestern Germany. (PATRICK SEEGER/AFP/Getty Images)
A wild animal, locally known as Binturung (Arctictis binturong) in a cage at Aceh Natural Resources Conservation Agency office at Banda Aceh, Indonesia, Jan. 12. (HOLIT SIMANJU/EPA/Shutterstock)
An injured female Long-eared owl, who likely suffered a concussion after striking a window and was rescued from the 14th story of a midtown Manhattan building Friday, is shown after being treated at the Wild Bird Fund, a New York city-based wildlife rehabilitation center. The owl, who spent the weekend recovering from her collision, was treated with anti-inflammatory medication and antibiotic eye drops by the rehabilitation center and recovered. She was released in New York’s Central Park on New Years’ Day under a supermoon. (Andrew Garn/Associated Press)
Alice Shull and her dog Oliver show their support for Framingham mayoral candidate. (Suzanne Kreiter/Globe Staff)
An Egyptian goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca) spreads her wings at the zoo in Heidelberg, Germany, Jan. 9. (WITTEK/EPA/Shutterstock)
False gharial “De Gaulle” swims in its basin during the annual inventory of the zoo in Dresden, eastern Germany, on January 8, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / dpa / Sebastian Kahnert / Germany OUTSEBASTIAN KAHNERT/AFP/Getty Images (SEBASTIAN KAHNERT/AFP/Getty Images)
Shown is Motuba, a male Western lowland gorilla, at the Philadelphia Zoo in Philadelphia, Jan. 11. (Matt Rourke/Associated Press)
An osprey poses in front of the camera at the Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge in Virginia. Motion-detecting wildlife cameras are yielding serious science as well as amusing photos. From ocelots in the desert to snow-loving lynx high in the Northern Rockies, remote cameras are exposing elusive creatures like never before. (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service via AP)
Female Gelada baboons, also known as bleeding-heart baboons, cuddle with their youngs in order to keep warm at the Wilhelma Zoo in Stuttgart, Germany. (Sebastian Gollnow/dpa via AP)
With her breath frosting up in the sub freezing temperatures, one of the Memphis Zoo’s African lions chills out morning, Jan. 2, in Memphis, Tenn. (Jim Weber/The Commercial Appeal via AP)
A man feeds a seagull flying behind a ferry on The Bosphorus as the sun shines in Istanbul on Jan. 4. (BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images)
A freshwater stingray (Potamotrygonidae) enjoys a fish as it is being measured during the annual inventory at the Sea Life aquarium in Hanover, northern Germany, on Jan.11. (Holger Hollemann/AFP/Getty Images)
A white Indian goose splashes in the waters of a pond of a public garden during a sunny but a cold day in New Delhi, India, Jan. 10. (HARISH TYAGI/EPA/Shutterstock)
Two Adelie penguins swim in the Guadalajara Zoo, in Guadalajara, Mexico, Jan. 13. The Guadalajara Zoo celebrated the arrival of three Adelie penguin pups, which will help the conservation of this threatened species. (ULISES RUIZ BASURTO/EPA/Shutterstock)
Ice bear Tonja swims in the water tank of her enclosure at the zoo in Berlin, Germany, Sunday, Jan. 14, 2018. (Maurizio Gambarini/dpa via AP) (Maurizio Gambarini/dpa via AP)
A greater mouse-eared bat (Myotis myotis) housed in the basement vault of a brewery in Frankfurt/Oder in eastern Germany. (PATRICK PLEUL/AFP/Getty Images)

Saturn’s Fascinating Moon Titan Has Yet Another Thing in Common With Earth

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Saturn’s Fascinating Moon Titan Has Yet Another Thing in Common With Earth

Visualization of Titan’s largest sea, Kraken Mare, which stretches 680 miles. (Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASI/USGS)

Titan—Saturn’s largest moon—is remarkable in that it features a dense atmosphere and stable liquid at the surface. The only other place in the solar system with these particular characteristics is, you guessed it, Earth. Thanks to a pair of new studies, we can add a third trait to this list of shared characteristics: a global sea level.

Two new studies published in Geophysical Research Letters are offering fresh insights into one of the solar system’s most intriguing objects, the Saturnian moon Titan. The first study provides the most detailed topographical map of Titan to date, while the second study piggybacks off this research, showing that Titan’s largest seas and lakes have a common equipotential surface, meaning they form a common sea level. Both studies were done by researchers from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.

Using data from multiple sources, including the late, great Cassini probe, a research team led by Alex Hayes was able to piece together the new topographical map. It’s not perfect (it still has some gaps and “hazy” areas of uncertainty), but it’s the most detailed yet.

The new topographical map of Titan. (Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASI/USGS)

The exercise, which took a full year, revealed some new features, including new mountains (none higher than 2,290 feet (700 meters)) and depressions in equatorial regions that appear to be either ancient, dried seas or cryovolcanic flows (that is, flows produced by ice volcanoes). The Cornell scientists also learned that Titan is more oblate—or flatter—than we thought, which means it has a crust that’s highly variable.

In the second study, also led by Hayes, the researchers used the new topographical information to show that an average sea level exists across Titan’s seas and lakes. Unlike Earth’s oceans of liquid water, however, Titan features water bodies of oily hydrocarbons (e.g. liquid methane and ethane). Titan’s largest seas and lakes were shown to rest at a consistent elevation across the planet, similar to how the Atlantic and Pacific oceans sit at a common sea level on Earth.

Smaller lakes appeared at heights several hundred feet higher than Titan’s sea, again approximating something we see on our planet. As an extreme example, Lake Titicaca sits 12,507 feet high in the Andes Mountains.

“We’re measuring the elevation of a liquid surface on another body [930 million miles] away from the sun to an accuracy of roughly 40 centimeters [15.75 inches]. Because we have such amazing accuracy we were able to see that between these two seas the elevation varied smoothly about 11 meters [36 feet], relative to the center of mass of Titan, consistent with the expected change in the gravitational potential,” said Hayes in a statement.

By referring to Titan’s gravitational potential, Hayes is talking about differences in sea level elevation owing to the effects of gravity (gravity isn’t consistent across a large celestial body, due to differences in its mass and shape). The global differences in sea level variation, the new research shows, are within the expected bounds of the moon’s gravitational effects.

Ligeia Mare is the second-largest known body of liquid on Saturn’s moon Titan. (image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASI/Cornell)

This study shows that Titan’s large liquid bodies must be connected somehow. The most plausible explanation, say the researchers, is that they’re connected by underground aquifers, and not through channels or rivers on the surface.

“We don’t see any empty lakes that are below the local filled lakes because, if they did go below that level, they would be filled themselves. This suggests that there’s flow in the subsurface and that they are communicating with each other,” said Hayes. “It’s also telling us that there is liquid hydrocarbon stored on the subsurface of Titan.”

Titan’s hydrocarbons are likely flowing beneath the surface, similar to how water flows through underground porous rock or gravel on Earth—the result being that nearby lakes or seas share a common liquid level.

Much of this is pure speculation at this point; scientists will somehow have to prove that Titan’s subsurface features pools of interconnected reservoirs of hydrocarbons—a big ask, to say the least. But that simply means Titan is ripe for further investigation, and possibly a robotic mission.

[Geophysical Research Letters, Geophysical Research Letters]

Beneath Biblical Prophet’s Tomb, an Archaeological Surprise

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Beneath Biblical Prophet’s Tomb, an Archaeological Surprise

 Beneath Biblical Prophet's Tomb, an Archaeological Surprise
Seven inscriptions were found in looters’ tunnels dug beneath the destroyed tomb of Jonah (one of the tunnels is shown here).

Credit: Eleanor Robson

Deep inside looters’ tunnels dug beneath the Tomb of Jonah in the ancient Iraq city of Nineveh, archaeologists have uncovered 2,700-year-old inscriptions that describe the rule of an Assyrian king named Esarhaddon.

The seven inscriptions were discovered in four tunnels beneath the biblical prophet’s tomb, which is a shrine that’s sacred to both Christians and Muslims. The shrine was blown up by the Islamic State group (also called ISIS or Daesh) during its occupation of Nineveh from June 2014 until January 2017.

ISIS or ISIS-backed looters apparently dug the tunnels to look for archaeological treasures from the Assyrian kings in what is today Iraq, Ali Y. Al-Juboori, director of the Assyrian Studies Centre at the University of Mosul, wrote in a recent issue of the journal Iraq. [In Photos: Ancient City Discovered in Iraq]

One inscription, in translation, reads: “The palace of Esarhaddon, strong king, king of the world, king of Assyria, governor of Babylon, king of Sumer and Akkad, king of the kings of lower Egypt, upper Egypt and Kush [an ancient kingdom located south of Egypt in Nubia].”

This inscription was found during excavations at Nineveh on the back of a fallen "lamassu," a deity with a human's head and the body of a lion or bull. It reads (in translation): "The palace of Ashurbanipal, great king, mighty king, king of the world, king of Assyria, son of Esarhaddon, king of Assyria, descendant of Sennacherib, king of Assyria."

This inscription was found during excavations at Nineveh on the back of a fallen “lamassu,” a deity with a human’s head and the body of a lion or bull. It reads (in translation): “The palace of Ashurbanipal, great king, mighty king, king of the world, king of Assyria, son of Esarhaddon, king of Assyria, descendant of Sennacherib, king of Assyria.”

Credit: Stevan Beverly

Kush leaders at one point ruled Egypt, according to ancient inscriptions found at other archaeological sites. Those inscriptions also say that Esarhaddon defeated the Kush rulers and chose new rulers to govern Egypt.

Another inscription found under the Tomb of Jonah says that Esarhaddon “reconstructed the temple of the god Aššur [the chief god of the Assyrians],” rebuilt the ancient cities of Babylon and Esagil, and “renewed the statues of the great gods.”

The inscriptions also tell of Esarhaddon’s family history, saying that he is the son of Sennacherib [reign 704–681 B.C.] and a descendent of Sargon II (reign 721–705 B.C.), who was also “king of the world, king of Assyria.”

Al-Juboori also translated four other inscriptions found at Nineveh, near the Nergal Gate (Nergal was the Assyrian god of war), between 1987 and 1992 by an archaeological team from Iraq’s Inspectorate of Antiquities. Conflicts in the area made it difficult for the team to publish their discoveries at the time.

The inscriptions date to the reign of King Sennacherib, and they all say this king “had the inner wall and outer wall of Nineveh built anew and raised as high as mountains.”

Archaeologists found several inscriptions near the Tomb of Jonah during the 1987-1992 excavations. One of them was written on a prism-shaped clay object and discusses Esarhaddon’s many military conquests, including Cilicia (located on the southern coast of what is now Turkey). The transcribed inscription calls Esarhaddon “the one who treads on the necks of the people of Cilicia.”

Esarhaddon claims in the inscription that “I surrounded, conquered, plundered, demolished, destroyed and burned with fire twenty-one of their cities together with small cities in their environs. …” The inscription also discusses his conquest of Sidon (located in modern-day Lebanon), claiming that Esarhaddon’s army tore down the city’s walls and threw them into the Mediterranean Sea.

The remains of ancient inscriptions from other sites that ISIS tried to loot and destroy have also been found. After the ancient Assyrian city of Nimrud was recaptured in November 2017, the surviving inscriptions include one describing a monkey colony that once flourished at Nimrud.

Originally published on Live Science.

Ancient Statue of Nubian King Found in Nile River Temple

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Ancient Statue of Nubian King Found in Nile River Temple

Ancient Statue of Nubian King Found in Nile River Temple

Parts of a 2,600-year-old statue engraved with an Egyptian hieroglyphic inscription were discovered recently at the site of Dangeil in Sudan.

Credit: J. Anderson/© Berber-Abidiya Archaeological Project

Remains of a 2,600-year-old statue with an inscription written in Egyptian hieroglyphics has been discovered in a temple at Dangeil, an archaeological site along the Nile River in Sudan.

Found in an ancient temple dedicated to the Egyptian god Amun, the statue depicts Aspelta, who was the ruler of the Kush kingdom between 593 B.C. and 568 B.C. Some of Aspelta’s predecessors had ruled Egypt, located to the north of Kush. Though Aspelta didn’t control Egypt, the inscription says (in translation) that he was “King of Upper and Lower Egypt” and was “Beloved of Re’-Harakhty” (a form of the Egyptian sun god “Re”) and that Aspelta was “given all life, stability and dominion forever.”

“Being ‘Beloved of a god’ confers legitimacy on a ruler,” wrote archaeologists Julie Anderson, Rihab Khidir el-Rasheed and Mahmoud Suliman Bashir, who co-direct excavations at Dangeil, in an article published recently in the journal Sudan and Nubia. The “Kushite kings were closely tied to Re,” they noted. [See Photos of the Newfound Statue with Hieroglyphics]

While Kush lost control of Egypt during the reign of a king named Tanwetamani (reign circa 664–653 B.C.), his successors, including Aspelta, still called themselves “King of Upper and Lower Egypt,” Anderson, an assistant keeper at the British Museum, told Live Science. The title “may be viewed as general assertions of authority using the traditional titles, and not a claim to Egypt,” Anderson said.

In 2008, archaeologists found parts of the Aspelta statue, including the head, along with statues depicting two other Kushite kings — Taharqa (reign ca. 690–664 B.C.) and Senkamanisken (reign ca. 643-623 B.C.).

The statue parts were found in a temple (main gate shown here) dedicated to the god Amun.
The statue parts were found in a temple (main gate shown here) dedicated to the god Amun.

Credit: M. Tohami/© Berber-Abidiya Archaeological Project

However, those Aspelta statue parts held little of thehieroglyphic inscription, preventing archaeologists from firmly identifying the statue as depicting Aspelta. It wasn’t until new pieces of the statue that had the hieroglyphic inscription were discovered during fieldwork in 2016 and 2017 that archaeologists could identify the statue and begin the process of putting it back together.

Archaeologists won’t know the statue’s exact dimensions until more reconstruction work is done, but, based on what they have so far, they estimate that the statue of Aspelta is “approximately half life-size.”

The Amun temple, where the statues of Aspelta, Taharqa and Senkamanisken were discovered, dates back at least 2,000 years. The statues were likely constructed during the lifetimes of their respective kings and were displayed long after those kings died, Anderson said.

“Statues might be displayed in temples, particularly the forecourts of temples, after the reigns of the kings, as they may have served as intermediaries between the people and the gods in popular religion,” Anderson told Live Science.

People used the Amun Temple until the late third to early fourth century, when the temple ceased to function. The kingdom of Kush also collapsed during the fourth century.

Between the late 11th and early 13th centuries, long after the Amun temple had fallen into ruin, people were digging graves in the ruined temple, archaeologists found.

Eight tombs excavated during the 2016 and 2017 field seasons contained the remains of several adult women and at least one juvenile. Inside those tombs, the researchers found a trove of jewelry, including necklaces, beaded belts, rings, bracelets and anklets. Altogether, the eight tombs held about 18,500 beads and more than 70 copper bracelets, she noted, adding that it dates back to a time when Christianity was widely practiced in the area.

The vast amount of jewelry “suggest this is an elite group” Anderson said, but archaeologists aren’t sure about who these people were.

The excavations at Dangeil are a mission of the National Corporation for Antiquities and Museums (NCAM), Sudan. The mission is sponsored by the Qatar-Sudan Archaeological Project. Mahmoud Suliman Bashir and Rihab Khidir el-Rasheed are both archaeologists with NCAM.

Originally published on Live Science.

A Man’s Eye Floater Was Actually a Tapeworm — Plus Thousands of Its Eggs

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A Man’s Eye Floater Was Actually a Tapeworm — Plus Thousands of Its Eggs

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A Man's Eye Floater Was Actually a Tapeworm — Plus Thousands of Its Eggs

An image of the pork tapeworm Taenia solium.

Credit: CDC/ Dr. Mae Melvin

A tapeworm in your gut sounds horrifying enough, but imagine having a tapeworm in your eye.

That’s what happened to a man in Florida who initially thought he saw something moving across his vision, only to discover he had tapeworm living in his eye, according to news reports.

The man, Sam Cordero, recently went to the doctor after experiencing vision problems. “I see a little black dot and it’s only on the left eye. I see something moving from left to right,” Cordero told the news station WFTS in Tampa.

Cordero turned out to have an infection with Taenia solium, a porktapeworm. The parasite traveled from his intestines through his bloodstream and into his eye. By the time he saw a doctor, the worm was living in the fluid-filled area behind the eye’s lens, called the vitreous chamber, WFTS reported.

T. solium is a parasitic infection that people can get by eating raw or undercooked pork, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Cordero said he believes he ate undercooked pork around Christmastime. [‘Eye’ Can’t Look: 9 Eyeball Injuries That Will Make You Squirm]

Most people infected with this tapeworm don’t experience any symptoms, the CDC says, although some people with intestinal infections may experience abdominal pain, loss of appetite and weight loss.

Eye infections with pork tapeworms are rare: Only about 20 such cases have been reported worldwide, according to WFTS. Despite its rarity, Cordero’s ophthalmologist, Dr. Don Perez, has now treated two patients with tapeworm eye infections. (Perez first treated a patient with the infection in 2012.)

“I’ve been hit with lightning because you seldom see this,” Perez told WFTS.

Pork tapeworms in the eye can cause blindness. The worm’s eggs can also infect the brain, where they grow into cysts. (A person does not need to have an eye infection with the parasite for it to infect the brain; it can infect the brain from elsewhere in the body.)

Cordero had an eye procedure to have the tapeworm removed. During the procedure, Perez suctioned out a 3-millimeter (0.1 inches) tapeworm, along with tens of thousands of eggs, WFTS said.

Cordero is now parasite-free and has no vision problems. He says he will make a change to his lifestyle after his medical ordeal: He will no longer eat pork.

Original article on Live Science.

The Best Space Photos Ever: Astronauts & Scientists Weigh in

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The Best Space Photos Ever: Astronauts & Scientists Weigh in

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The Best Space Photos Ever: Astronauts & Scientists Weigh in

Australian National University astrophysicist Brian Schmidt chose this Hubble photo of Supernova SN 1994D as his favorite space image, which he called “the poster child of a type Ia supernovae.” The supernova is the bright spot on the lower left, shown near the galaxy galaxy NGC 4526. Schmidt won the 2011 Nobel Physics prize for his studies of distant supernovas that helped reveal the existence of dark energy.

Credit: NASA/ESA, The Hubble Key Project Team and The High-Z Supernova Search Team

The wonder of the cosmos.The beauty of the heavens. Such phrases come easily to mind when contemplating space, which is just such a photogenic place.

Looking up at the night sky has inspired humanity for eons, and the first photographs taken of space changed our relationship with the sky forever. Then, the first photos taken from space, both of distant galaxies and of our own planet, revolutionized our understanding of our place in the cosmos again.

Many seminal images stand out in the history of astrophotography, with some pictures universally adored and others special to individuals for personal reasons.

We asked scientists, photographers, authors and historians for their favorite space photographs and found a diversity of choices, as well as some popular recurring favorites. [Gallery: Experts’ Favorite Space Photos]

Seeing Earth from lunar orbit

The most-nominated photo we received was without a doubt “Earthrise,” the first picture taken of planet Earth bypeople orbiting the moon. This shot was captured by Apollo 8 astronaut Bill Anders on December 24, 1968, as his spacecraft became the first to fly around the moon.

"Earthrise," the first picture taken of planet Earth by people orbiting the moon. This shot was captured by Apollo 8 astronaut Bill Anders on December 24, 1968, as his spacecraft became the first to fly around the moon.

“Earthrise,” the first picture taken of planet Earth by people orbiting the moon. This shot was captured by Apollo 8 astronaut Bill Anders on December 24, 1968, as his spacecraft became the first to fly around the moon.

Credit: NASA

“It was iconic for the environmental movement,” said astronomer Jill Tarter, co-founder of the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute in Mountain View, Calif. “It allowed us to see ourselves as Earthlings living on a single, fragile, beautiful planet. This perspective is even more important today. Many of the challenges we face require long-term thinking and global cooperation; they do not respect national boundaries.”

Tarter called her selection of this picture as her favorite a “no-brainer,” and she wasn’t alone. Former astronaut Pamela Melroy, one of only two women to command the space shuttle, selected “Earthrise,” too.

“In space, new vantage points always result in striking images — we saw that all the time as the space station was assembled, and cameras and windows opened up new views of the space shuttle and International Space Station in ways that always surprised us,” Melroy told “But the first view on Apollo 8 of Earthrise had to have been the biggest surprise ever —a new view of spaceship Earth!”

Deep fields and lunar vistas

More votes for “Earthrise” came from John Mather, senior project scientist for NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, and writer Dava Sobel, author of space- and science-themed books “The Planets,” “Galileo’s Daughter” and “Longitude.”

Sobel called out the picture of Earth, as well as the Hubble Space Telescope’s famous “Hubble Deep Field” photo, which offered the deepest view yet of the universe when it was taken in 1995, by combining light gathered over many hours to reveal thousands of distant galaxies.

“Both [photos] set the mind ajar, spring surprises on the senses,” Sobel said.

This seminal 1995 image was taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. Called the Hubble Deep Field, it collected light over many hours to reveal the deepest view of the universe yet, which included thousands of distant galaxies.

This seminal 1995 image was taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. Called the Hubble Deep Field, it collected light over many hours to reveal the deepest view of the universe yet, which included thousands of distant galaxies.

Credit: R. Williams (STScI), the Hubble Deep Field Team and NASA

These two pictures were called “familiar classics” by Nobel Prize-winning physicist Frank Wilczek of MIT.

“To break the tie with something fresher, I’ll mention a recent one, that’s actually far from beautiful, but that I find meaningful and deeply moving,” Wilczek said. The photo he picked is called “Earth From Mars,” which was taken by NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Spirit on March 8, 2004. It was the first image of Earth seen from the surface of a planet beyond the moon.

This photo, called "Earth From Mars," was taken by NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit on March 8, 2004. It was the first image of Earth seen from the surface of a planet beyond the moon.

This photo, called “Earth From Mars,” was taken by NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Spirit on March 8, 2004. It was the first image of Earth seen from the surface of a planet beyond the moon.

Credit: NASA/JPL/Cornell/Texas A&M

Astronomer Greg Laughlin of the University of California, Santa Cruz nominated an image of the crescent planet Neptune and its crescent moon Triton taken by NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft in 1989.

“There’s no false color, no artifice, no agenda,” Laughlin said.”This photograph is calming, mysterious and aesthetically perfect.”

The crescent planet Neptune and its crescent moon Triton, as seen by NASA's Voyager 2 spacecraft in 1989.

The crescent planet Neptune and its crescent moon Triton, as seen by NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft in 1989.

Credit: Voyager 2, NASA

In some cases, the meaning behind a photo eclipses its aesthetic qualities. That may be the case for a photo of helmets and spacesuits covered in lunar dust after the last manned moonwalk, from the 1972 Apollo 17 mission.

“It symbolizes NASA at its best, and our exploration aspirations for the future,” said Southwest Research Institute planetary scientist Alan Stern, who chose the photo.

This photo shows helmets and spacesuits covered in lunar dust after the last manned moonwalk, from the 1972 Apollo 17 mission.

This photo shows helmets and spacesuits covered in lunar dust after the last manned moonwalk, from the 1972 Apollo 17 mission.

Credit: NASA

Solar scientist Phillip Chamberlin’s pick can be appreciated by anyone for its pure beauty, but this photo of the sun has special meaning to the researcher, who is deputy project scientist for NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) at theGoddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

“When we first started getting data, after years of work on building the SDO instruments and spacecraft, launching SDO, and early ops, we took our first images and this is what we saw with AIA, [SDO’s Atmospheric Imaging Assembly instrument],” Chamberlin said. “Absolutely amazing.”

This photo was among the first images taken by the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly on NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory satellite.

This photo was among the first images taken by the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly on NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory satellite.

Credit: NASA/SDO

For more photo picks, see our complete gallery of experts’ favorite space images.

Saturn’s Rings Seen by Cassini Probe

Credit: Cassini Imaging Team, SSI, JPL, ESA, NASA

This story was provided by, a sister site to Live Science. Follow Clara Moskowitz on Twitter @ClaraMoskowitz or @Spacedotcom. We’re also on Facebook & Google+.

History of the Knights Templar

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History of the Knights Templar

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The history of the Order of the Knights Templar as a trans-national military-religious order spans two centuries of the High Middle Ages, from the Order’s founding in the early 12th century to its suppression early in the 14th century.

Al Aqsa Mosque

The Knights Templar trace their origin back to shortly after the First Crusade. Around 1119, an Italian nobleman Ugo de’ Pagani from Nocera de’ Pagani inCampania, southern Italy or Hugues de Payens as known in French, collected eight knights including Godfrey de Saint-Omer,

King Baldwin II of Jerusalem, assigning the captured Al Aqsa Mosqueto Hugues de Payens and Godfrey, to use as their headquarters. The Crusaders called the structure the Temple of Solomon, and it was from this location that the Order tooks its name, as Templars


and began the Order, their stated mission to protect pilgrims on their journey to visit the Holy Places. They approached King Baldwin II of Jerusalem, who allowed them to set up headquarters on the Temple Mount. The Dome of the Rock, at the centre of the Mount, was understood to occupy the site of the Jewish Temple. Known to Christians throughout the Muslim occupation of Jerusalem as the Holy of Holies, the Dome of the Rock became a Christian church, the Templum Domini, the Temple of the Lord. But the Templars were lodged in the Aqsa Mosque, which was assumed to stand on the site of Solomon’s Temple. Because the Aqsa mosque was known as the Templum Solomonis, it was not long before the knights had encompassed the association in their name. They became known as the Pauperes commilitones Christi Templique Solomonici – the Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon, which was eventually shortened to “Knights Templar”.

The original order consisted of Hugues de Payens and eight knights, two of whom were brothers and all of whom were his relatives by either blood or marriage: Godfrey de Saint-Omer, Payne de Monteverdi, Archambaud de St. Agnan, Andre de Montbard, Geoffrey Bison, and two men recorded only by the names of Rossal and Gondamer. The ninth knight remains unknown, although some have speculated that it was Count Hugh of Champagne himself — despite the Count returning to France in 1116 and documentary evidence showing that he joined the Knights on his third visit to the Holy Land in 1125.

Little was heard of the Order for their first nine years. But in 1129, after they were officially sanctioned by the church at theCouncil of Troyes, they became well known in Europe. Their fundraising campaigns asked for donations of money, land, or noble-born sons to join the Order, with the implication that donations would help both to defend Jerusalem, and to ensure the charitable giver of a place in Heaven. The Order’s efforts were helped substantially by the patronage of Bernard of Clairvaux, the leading churchman of the time, and a nephew of one of the original nine knights. The Order at its outset had been subject to strong criticism, especially of the concept that religious men could also carry swords. In response to these critics, the influential Bernard of Clairvaux wrote a multi-page treatise entitled De Laude Novae Militae (“In Praise of the New Knighthood”), in which he championed their mission and defended the idea of a military religious order by appealing to the long-held Christian theory of just war, which legitimized “taking up the sword” to defend the innocent and the Church from violent attack. In doing so, Bernard legitimized the Templars, who became the first “warrior monks” of the Western world.[citation needed] Bernard wrote:

[A Templar Knight] is truly a fearless knight, and secure on every side, for his soul is protected by the armor of faith, just as his body is protected by the armor of steel. He is thus doubly-armed, and need fear neither demons nor men.

Saint Bernard de Clairvaux, the Order’s patron

Shortly after its foundation in Jerusalem and due to possible previous links of the founding knights with the crusader Count Henry of Burgundy and with the House of Burgundy, and perhaps because of the family ties that Henry and his son Afonso had with Bernard of Clairvaux, the Knights Templar were already in the western edge of Europe, in the County of Portugal, at least from May 1122.

Conde D. Henrique - Compendio de crónicas de reyes (Biblioteca Nacional de España).png

Henry in Compendio de crónicas de reyes
(c. 1312 – 1325)
Count of Portugal
Reign 1096 – 1112
Predecessor Raymond
Successor Afonso Henriques
Born c. 1066
Dijon, Burgundy
Died 12 May 1112
Astorga, León
Burial Braga Cathedral, Braga, Portugal
Spouse Teresa of León
Afonso I of Portugal
House Capetian House of Burgundy
Father Henry of Burgundy
Religion Roman Catholicism

The Templars settled there first, where the Order received donations and bought lands during the successive years of 1122, 1123, 1125, and 1126 (donated by D. Theresa), and 1127–28. Another possible reason for such exceptional early donations before the Council of Troyes, may be the alleged links of one or two founding knights of the Temple in Jerusalem, among the founding French knights of Champagne, Languedoc or other regions, Burgundy and possibly Flanders, with the County of Portugal – being of Portuguese origin, or Franco-Portuguese or Burgundian-Portuguese origin; claims sustained by chroniclers of the Templar Order in Portugal, written in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, supposedly basing themselves on original medieval source material of the Order of Christ.

Donations to the Order were considerable. The King of Aragon, in the Iberian Peninsula, left large tracts of land to the Order upon his death in the 1130s. New members to the Order were also required to swear religious vows of obedience, chastity, poverty and piety, and hand over all of their goods to the monastic brotherhood. This could include land, horses and any other items of material wealth, including labor from serfs, and interest in any businesses.

In 1139, even more power was conferred upon the Order by Pope Innocent II, who issued the papal bull, Omne Datum Optimum. It stated that the Knights Templar could pass freely through any border, owed no taxes, and were subject to no one’s authority except that of the Pope. It was a remarkable confirmation of the Templars and their mission, which may have been brought about by the Order’s patron, Bernard of Clairvaux, who had helped Pope Innocent in his own rise.

Saint Bernard of Clairvaux
Bernard of Clairvaux - Gutenburg - 13206.jpg

St Bernard in “A Short History of Monks and Monasteries” by Alfred Wesley Wishart (1900)
Doctor of the Church
Doctor Mellifluus
Born 1090
Fontaine-lès-Dijon, France
Died 20 August, 1153 (aged 62–63)
Clairvaux, France
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church, Anglican Church, Lutheran Church
Canonized 18 January 1174, Rome by Pope Alexander III
Major shrine Troyes Cathedral
Ville-sous-la-Ferté, religious vocations, preachers.
Feast 20 August
Attributes White Cistercian habit, devil on a chain, white dog
Patronage Cistercians, Burgundy, beekeepers, candlemakers,Gibraltar, Algeciras, Queens’ College, Cambridge, Speyer Cathedral, Knights Templar

The Order grew rapidly throughout Western Europe, with chapters appearing in France, England, and Scotland, and then spreading to Spain and Portugal. They also made their way to the New World, Nova Scotia and Oak Island.

The Crusades and the Knights Templar[edit]

The Knights Templar were the elite fighting force of their day, highly trained, well-equipped and highly motivated; one of the tenets of their religious order was that they were forbidden from retreating in battle, unless outnumbered three to one, and even then only by order of their commander, or if the Templar flag went down. Not all Knights Templar were warriors. The mission of most of the members was one of support – to acquire resources which could be used to fund and equip the small percentage of members who were fighting on the front lines. There were actually 25 classes within the orders. The highest class was the knight. When a candidate was sworn into the order, the initiation made the knight a monk. They wore white robes. The knights could hold no property and receive no private letters. He could not be married or betrothed and cannot have any vow in any other Order. He could not have debt more than he could pay, and no infirmities. The Templar priest class was similar to the modern day military chaplain. Wearing green robes, they conducted religious services, led prayers, and were assigned record keeping and letter writing. They always wore gloves, unless they were giving Holy Communion. The mounted men-at-arms represented the most common class, and they were called “brothers”. They were usually assigned two horses each and held many positions, including guard, steward, squire or other support vocations. As the main support staff, they wore black or brown robes and were partially garbed in chain mail or plate mail. The armor was not as complete as the knights. Because of this infrastructure, the warriors were well-trained and very well armed. Even their horses were trained to fight in combat, fully armored.[5] The combination of soldier and monk was also a powerful one, as to the Templar knights, martyrdom in battle was one of the most glorious ways to die.

The Templars were also shrewd tacticians, following the dream of Saint Bernard who had declared that a small force, under the right conditions, could defeat a much larger enemy. One of the key battles in which this was demonstrated was in 1177, at the Battle of Montgisard. The famous Muslim military leader Saladin was attempting to push toward Jerusalem from the south, with a force of 26,000 soldiers.

Salah ad-Din Yusuf
Al-Malik an-Nasir
Portrait of Saladin (before A.D. 1185; short).jpg

A possible portrait of Saladin, found in a work byIsmail al-Jazari, circa 1185
Sultan of Egypt and Syria
Reign 1174 – 4 March 1193
Coronation 1174, Cairo
Predecessor New office
Born 1137
Tikrit, Upper Mesopotamia,Abbasid Caliphate
Died 4 March 1193 (aged 55–56)
Damascus, Syria, Ayyubid Sultanate
Burial Umayyad Mosque, Damascus
Spouse Ismat ad-Din Khatun
Full name
An-Nasir Ṣalāḥ ad-Dīn Yūsuf ibn Ayyūb
Dynasty Ayyubid
Father Najm ad-Dīn Ayyūb
Religion Sunni Islam (Shafi’i)

He had pinned the forces of Jerusalem’s King Baldwin IV, about 500 knights and their supporters, near the coast, at Ascalon. Eighty Templar knights and their own entourage attempted to reinforce. They met Saladin’s troops at Gaza, but were considered too small a force to be worth fighting, so Saladin turned his back on them and headed with his army towards Jerusalem.

Once Saladin and his army had moved on, the Templars were able to join King Baldwin’s forces, and together they proceeded north along the coast. Saladin had made a key mistake at that point – instead of keeping his forces together, he permitted his army to temporarily spread out and pillage various villages on their way to Jerusalem. The Templars took advantage of this low state of readiness to launch a surprise ambush directly against Saladin and his bodyguard, at Montgisard near Ramla. Saladin’s army was spread too thin to adequately defend themselves, and he and his forces were forced to fight a losing battle as they retreated back to the south, ending up with only a tenth of their original number. The battle was not the final one with Saladin, but it bought a year of peace for the Kingdom of Jerusalem, and the victory became a heroic legend.

Another key tactic of the Templars was that of the “squadron charge”. A small group of knights and their heavily armed warhorses would gather into a tight unit which would gallop full speed at the enemy lines, with a determination and force of will that made it clear that they would rather commit suicide than fall back. This terrifying onslaught would frequently have the desired result of breaking a hole in the enemy lines, thereby giving the other Crusader forces an advantage.

The Templars, though relatively small in number, routinely joined other armies in key battles. They would be the force that would ram through the enemy’s front lines at the beginning of a battle, or the fighters that would protect the army from the rear. They fought alongside King Louis VII of France, and King Richard I of England. In addition to battles in Palestine, members of the Order also fought in the Spanish and Portuguese Reconquista.


Though initially an Order of poor monks, the official papal sanction made the Knights Templar a charity across Europe. Further resources came in when members joined the Order, as they had to take oaths of poverty, and therefore often donated large amounts of their original cash or property to the Order. Additional revenue came from business dealings. Since the monks themselves were sworn to poverty, but had the strength of a large and trusted international infrastructure behind them, nobles would occasionally use them as a kind of bank or power of attorney. If a noble wished to join the Crusades, this might entail an absence of years from their home. So some nobles would place all of their wealth and businesses under the control of Templars, to safeguard it for them until their return. The Order’s financial power became substantial, and the majority of the Order’s infrastructure was devoted not to combat, but to economic pursuits.

By 1150, the Order’s original mission of guarding pilgrims had changed into a mission of guarding their valuables through an innovative way of issuing letters of credit, an early precursor of modern banking. Pilgrims would visit a Templar house in their home country, depositing their deeds and valuables. The Templars would then give them a letter which would describe their holdings. Modern scholars have stated that the letters were encrypted with a cipher alphabet based on a Maltese Cross; however there is some disagreement on this, and it is possible that the code system was introduced later, and not something used by the medieval Templars themselves. While traveling, the pilgrims could present the letter to other Templars along the way, to “withdraw” funds from their accounts. This kept the pilgrims safe since they were not carrying valuables, and further increased the power of the Templars.

Knights Templar playing chess, 1283

The Knights’ involvement in banking grew over time into a new basis for money, as Templars became increasingly involved in banking activities. One indication of their powerful political connections is that the Templars’ involvement in usury did not lead to more controversy within the Order and the church at large. Officially the idea of lending money in return for interest was forbidden by the church, but the Order sidestepped this with clever loopholes, such as a stipulation that the Templars retained the rights to the production of mortgaged property. Or as one Templar researcher put it, “Since they weren’t allowed to charge interest, they charged rent instead.”

Their holdings were necessary to support their campaigns; in 1180, a Burgundian noble required 3 square kilometres of estate to support himself as a knight, and by 1260 this had risen to 15.6 km². The Order potentially supported up to 4,000 horses and pack animals at any given time, if provisions of the rule were followed; these horses had extremely high maintenance costs due to the heat in Outremer (Crusader states at the Eastern Mediterranean), and had high mortality rates due to both disease and the Turkish bowmen strategy of aiming at a knight’s horse rather than the knight himself. In addition, the high mortality rates of the knights in the East (regularly ninety percent in battle, not including wounded) resulted in extremely high campaign costs due to the need to recruit and train more knights. In 1244, at the battle of La Forbie, where only thirty-three of 300 knights survived, it is estimated the financial loss was equivalent to one-ninth of the entire Capetian yearly revenue.

The Templars’ political connections and awareness of the essentially urban and commercial nature of the Outremercommunities led the Order to a position of significant power, both in Europe and the Holy Land. They owned large tracts of land both in Europe and the Middle East, built churches and castles, bought farms and vineyards, were involved in manufacturing and import/export, had their own fleet of ships, and for a time even “owned” the entire island ofCyprus.


Their success attracted the concern of many other orders, with the two most powerful rivals being the Knights Hospitallerand the Teutonic Knights. Various nobles also had concerns about the Templars as well, both for financial reasons, and nervousness about an independent army that was able to move freely through all borders.

The Battle of Hattin

The long-famed military acumen of the Templars began to stumble in the 1180s. On July 4, 1187, came the disastrous Battle of the Horns of Hattin, a turning point in the Crusades. It again involved Saladin, who had been beaten back by the Templars in 1177 in the legendary Battle of Montgisard near Tiberias, but this time Saladin was better prepared. Further, the Grand Master of the Templars was involved in this battle, Gerard de Ridefort, who had just achieved that lifetime position a few years earlier. He was not known as a good military strategist, and made some deadly errors, such as venturing out with his force of 80 knights without adequate supplies or water, across the arid hill country of Galilee. The Templars were overcome by the heat within a day, and then surrounded and massacred by Saladin’s army. Within months Saladin captured Jerusalem.

But in the early 1190s, in a remarkably short and powerfully effective campaign, Richard the Lionheart, King of England and leader of the Third Crusade, together with his allies the Templars, delivered a series of powerful blows against Saladin and recovered much of Christian territory. In name and number the revived Crusader states were as before, but their outlines were diminished. There was the Kingdom of Jerusalem, though its capital was at Acre, which the Templars made their new headquarters. To the north was the County of Tripoli. But the Muslims retained control of the Syrian coast around Latakia for some time, and so the Principality of Antioch further to the north was now no longer contiguous to the other Crusader states. Nevertheless, the Third Crusade, in which Richard relied heavily on the Templars, had saved the Holy Land for the Christians and went a long way towards restoring Frankish fortunes. In this he was abetted by the military orders, whose great castles stood like islands of Frankish power amid the Muslim torrent. More than ever the Crusader states were relying on the military orders in their castles and on the field of battle, and the power of the orders grew. In fact at no point in their history would the Templars be more powerful than in the century to come.

But after the Siege of Acre in 1291, the Templars were forced to relocate their headquarters to the island of Cyprus.

Jacques de Molay
Grand Master of the Knights Templar
In office
Monarch King Philip IV
Preceded by Thibaud Gaudin
Succeeded by Order disbanded
Personal details
Born c. 1243[1]
Molay, Haute-Saône, France
Died March 18, 1314 (aged 70–71)
Paris, France
Nationality French
Military service
Allegiance Cross of the Knights Templar.svg Knights Templar
Years of service 1265–1314
Rank Grand Master (1292–1314)
Battles/wars Siege of Ruad

Jacques de Molay, who was to be the last of the Order’s Grand Masters, took office around 1292. One of his first tasks was to tour across Europe, to raise support for the Order and try to organize another Crusade. He met the newly invested Pope Boniface VIII, who agreed to grant the Templars the same privileges at Cyprus as they had held in the Holy Land. Charles II of Naples and Edward I also pledged varying types of support, either continuing to exempt the Templars from taxes, or pledging future support towards building a new army.

Boniface VIII
Bonifatius viii papst.jpg
Papacy began 24 December 1294
Papacy ended 11 October 1303
Predecessor Celestine V
Successor Benedict XI
Consecration 23 January 1295
Created Cardinal 12 April 1281
by Martin IV
Personal details
Birth name Benedetto Caetani
Born c. 1230
Anagni, Papal States, Holy Roman Empire
Died 11 October 1303
Rome, Papal States
Previous post
Coat of arms Boniface VIII's coat of arms
Other popes named Boniface
Charles II
Charles 2 of Naples.jpg

King Charles II from the Bible of Naples
King of Naples
Count of Provence and Forcalquier
Reign 1285–1309
Coronation 29 May 1289
Predecessor Charles I
Successor Robert
Count of Anjou and Maine
Reign 1285–1290
Predecessor Charles I
Successor Charles III
Prince of Achaea
Reign 1285–1289
Predecessor Charles I
Successor Isabella and Florent
Born 1254
Died 5 May 1309
Naples, Kingdom of Naples
Spouse Maria of Hungary
Charles Martel, Prince of Salerno
Louis, Bishop of Toulouse
Robert of Naples
Philip I of Taranto
John of Gravina
Margaret, Countess of Anjou
Blanche of Anjou
Eleanor of Anjou
Maria of Anjou
House Capetian House of Anjou
Father Charles I of Naples
Mother Beatrice of Provence

Final attempts to regain the Holy Land (1298–1300)

In 1298 or 1299, the military orders (the Knights Templar and Knights Hospitaller) and their leaders, including Jacques de Molay, Otton de Grandson and the Great Master of the Hospitallers, briefly campaigned in Armenia, in order to fight off an invasion by the Mamluks. They were not successful and soon the fortress of Roche-Guillaume in the Belen Pass, the last Templar stronghold in Antioch, was lost to the Muslims.

In 1300, the Templars, along with the Knights Hospitaller and forces from Cyprus attempted to retake the coastal city ofTortosa. They were able to take the island of Arwad, near Tortosa, but lost it soon after. With the loss of Arwad, the Crusaders had lost their last foothold in the Holy Land.

Though they still had a base of operations in Cyprus, and controlled considerable financial resources, the Order of the Templars became an Order without a clear purpose or support, but which still had enormous financial power. This unstable situation contributed to their downfall.


King Philip had other reasons to mistrust the Templars, as the organization had declared its desire to form its own state, similar to how the Teutonic Knights had founded Prussia. The Templars’ preferred location for this was in the Languedoc of southeastern France, but they had also made a plan for the island of Cyprus. In 1306, the Templars had supported a coup on that island, which had forced King Henry II of Cyprus to abdicate his throne in favor of his brother, Amalric of Tyre. This probably made Philip particularly uneasy, since just a few years earlier he had inherited land in the region of Champagne, France, which was the Templars’ headquarters. The Templars were already a “state within a state”, were institutionally wealthy, paid no taxes, and had a large standing army which by papal decree could move freely through all European borders. However, this army no longer had a presence in the Holy Land, leaving it with no battlefield. These factors, plus the fact that Philip had inherited an impoverished kingdom from his father and was already deeply in debt to the Templars, were probably what led to his actions. However, recent studies emphasize the political and religious motivations of the French king. It seems that, with the “discovery” and repression of the “Templars’ heresy,” the Capetian monarchy claimed for itself the mystic foundations of the papal theocracy. The Temple case was the last step of a process of appropriating these foundations, which had begun with the Franco-papal rift at the time of Boniface VIII. Being the ultimate defender of the Catholic faith, the Capetian king was invested with a Christlike function that put him above the pope : what was at stake in the Templars’ trial, then, was the establishment of a “royal theocracy”.

At dawn on Friday, October 13, 1307, scores of French Templars were simultaneously arrested by agents of King Philip, later to be tortured in locations such as the tower at Chinon, into admitting heresy and other sacrilegious offenses in the Order. Then they were put to death. There were five initial charges lodged against the Templars. The first was the renouncement and spitting on the cross during initiation into the Order. The second was the stripping of the man to be initiated and the thrice kissing of that man by the preceptor on the navel, posteriors and the mouth. The third was telling the neophyte (novice) that unnatural lust was lawful and indulged in commonly. The fourth was that the cord worn by the neophyte day and night was consecrated by wrapping it around an idol in the form of a human head with a great beard, and that this idol was adored in all chapters. The fifth was that the priests of the order did not consecrate the host in celebrating Mass. On August 12, 1308, the charges would be increased and would become more outrageous, one specifically stated that the Templars worshipped idols, specifically made of a cat and a head, the latter having three faces. The lists of articles 86 to 127[3] would add many other charges. The majority of these charges were identical to the charges that had been earlier issued against the inconvenient Pope Boniface VIII: accusations of denying Christ, spitting and urinating on the cross, and devil worship. Of the 138 Templars (many of them old men) questioned in Paris over the next few years, 105 of them “confessed” to denying Christ during the secret Templar initiations. 103 confessed to an “obscene kiss” being part of the ceremonies, and 123 said they spat on the cross. Throughout the trial there was never any physical evidence of wrongdoing, and no independent witnesses; the only “proof” was obtained through confessions induced by torture. The Templars reached out to the Pope for assistance, and Pope Clement did write letters to King Philip questioning the arrests, but took no further action.

Despite the fact that the confessions had been produced under duress, they caused a scandal in Paris, with mobs calling for action against the blaspheming Order. In response to this public pressure, along with more bullying from King Philip, Pope Clement issued the bull Pastoralis Praeeminentiae, which instructed all Christian monarchs in Europe to arrest all Templars and seize their assets. Most monarchs simply didn’t believe the charges, though proceedings were started in England,Iberia, Germany, Italy, and Cyprus,with the likelihood of a confession being dependent on whether or not torture was used to extract it.

The dominant view is that Philip, who seized the treasury and broke up the monastic banking system, was jealous of the Templars’ wealth and power, and frustrated by his enormous debt to them, sought to seize their financial resources for himself by bringing blatantly false charges against them at the Tours assembly in 1308. It is almost impossible to believe, that, under the influence of his carefully chosen advisors (the same that had persecuted Boniface), he actually believed the charges to be true. It is widely accepted that Philip had clearly made up the accusations, some nearly identical to those made against Boniface, and did not believe any of the Templars to have been party to such activities. It is a fact that he had invited Jacques de Molay to be a pall-bearer at the funeral of the King’s sister on the very day before the arrests.

The arrests caused some shifts in the European economy, from a system of military fiat back to European money, removing this power from Church orders. Seeing the fate of the Templars, the Hospitallers of St John of Jerusalem and of Rhodeswere also convinced to give up banking at this time.


Pope Clement V

In 1312, after the Council of Vienne, and under extreme pressure from King Philip IV, Pope Clement V issued an edict officially dissolving the Order. Many kings and nobles who had been supporting the Knights up until that time, finally acquiesced and dissolved the orders in their fiefs in accordance with the Papal command. Most were not so brutal as the French. InEngland, many Knights were arrested and tried, but not found guilty.

Much of the Templar property outside France was transferred by the Pope to the Knights Hospitaller, and many surviving Templars were also accepted into the Hospitallers. In theIberian Peninsula, where the king of Aragon was against giving the heritage of the Templars to the Hospitallers (as commanded by Clement V), the Order of Montesa took Templar assets.

The order continued to exist in Portugal, simply changing its name to the Order of Christ. This group was believed to have contributed to the first naval discoveries of the Portuguese. Prince Henry the Navigator led the Portuguese order for 20 years until the time of his death.

Prince Henry the Navigator
Duke of Viseu
Henry the Navigator1.jpg

Infante Henrique; St. Vincent Panels[a]
Born 4 March 1394
Porto, Portugal
Died 13 November 1460 (aged 66)
Sagres, Portugal
Burial Batalha Monastery
House Aviz
Father John I of Portugal
Mother Philippa of Lancaster
Religion Roman Catholicism

Even with the absorption of Templars into other Orders, there are still questions as to what became of all of the tens of thousands of Templars across Europe. There had been 15,000 “Templar Houses”, and an entire fleet of ships. Even in France where hundreds of Templars had been rounded up and arrested, this was only a small percentage of the estimated 3,000 Templars in the entire country. Also, the extensive archive of the Templars, with detailed records of all of their business holdings and financial transactions, was never found. By papal bull it was to have been transferred to the Hospitallers.

A theory made popular with Holy Blood, Holy Grail has it that the Templars used a fleet of 18 ships at La Rochelle to escape arrest in France. The fleet allegedly left laden with knights and treasures just before the issue of the warrant for the arrest of the Order in October 1307. This, in turn, was based on a single item of testimony from serving brother Jean de Châlon, who says he had “heard people talking that [Gerard de Villiers had] put to sea with 18 galleys, and the brother Hugues de Chalon fled with the whole treasury of the brother Hugues de Pairaud.” However, aside from being the sole source for this statement, the transcript indicates that it is hearsay, and this serving brother seems to be prone to making some of the wildest and most damning of claims about the Order, which have led some to doubt his credibility.

In Holy Blood, Holy Grail, the knights that allegedly boarded these ships then escaped to Scotland, but in some versions the Templars are even claimed to have left for North America, burying a treasure in Oak Island, Nova Scotia, Canada (a story taken up in the 2004 movie National Treasure starring Nicolas Cage). However, many historians have questioned the plausibility of this scenario. For example, historian Helen Nicholson has argued that

The Templars did have ships to carry personnel, pilgrims and supplies across the Mediterranean between the West and East and back, but if the Hospital after 1312 is any guide they did not have more than four galleys (warships) and few other ships, and if they needed more they hired them. They certainly could not spare ships to indulge in world exploration … [T]he records of the port of La Rochelle show that the Templars were exporting wine by ship. This was not a fleet in any modern sense: again, those would have been transport vessels rather than warships, and the Templars probably hired them as they needed them, rather than buying their own. … The ships would have been very small by modern standards, too shallow in draught and sailing too low in the water to be able to withstand the heavy waves and winds of the open Atlantic, and suited for use only in the relatively shallow waters of the continental shelf. What was more, they could not carry enough water to be at sea for long periods.

Nicholson’s argument, however, is an assessment of the fleet in 1312 – according to the LaRochelle Theory, many ships would already have disappeared bound for many of the aforementioned destinations and stands to reason their fleet would seem depleted in the following years after the arrest of the Templars.

Heresy, blasphemy, and other charges

There were five initial charges lodged against the Templars. The first was the renouncement and spitting on the cross during initiation into the Order. The second was the stripping of the man to be initiated and the thrice kissing of that man by the preceptor on the navel, posteriors and the mouth. The third was telling the neophyte (novice) that unnatural lust was lawful and indulged in commonly. The fourth was that the cord worn by the neophyte day and night was consecrated by wrapping it around an idol in the form of a human head with a great beard, and that this idol was adored in all chapters. The fifth was that the priests of the order did not consecrate the host in celebrating Mass. Subsequently, the charges would be increased and would become, according to the procedures, lists of articles 86 to 127[3] in which will be added a few other charges, such as the prohibition to priests who do not belong to the order.

The incontrovertibility of the evidence that the Templar priests did not mutilate the words of consecration in the mass is furnished in the Cypriote proceedings by ecclesiastics who had long dwelt with them in the East.

The manuscript illustration (c. 1350) alludes to the accusation of “obscene kisses” at the base of the spine

Debate continues as to whether the accusation of religious heresy had merit by the standards of the time. Under torture, some Templars admitted to sodomy and to theworship of heads and an idol known as Baphomet. Their leaders later denied these admissions, and for that were executed. Some scholars, such as Malcolm Barber, Helen Nicholson and Peter Partner, discount these as forced admissions, typical during the Medieval Inquisition.

The majority of the charges were identical to other people being tortured by the Inquisitors, with one exception: head worship. The Templars were specifically charged with worshipping some type of severed head; a charge which was made only against Templars. The descriptions of the head allegedly venerated by the Templars were varied and contradictory in nature. Quoting Norman Cohn:

Some describe it as having three faces, others as having four feet, others as being simply a face with no feet. For some it was a human skull, embalmed and encrusted with jewels; for others it was carved out of wood. Some maintained that it came from the remains of a former grand master of the order, while others were equally convinced that it was Baphomet – which in turn was interpreted as ‘Mohammed’. Some saw it as having horns.

Barber has linked this charge to medieval folklore about magical heads, and the popular medieval belief that the Muslims worshipped idols. Some argue it referred to rituals involving the alleged relics of John the Baptist, Euphemia, one ofUrsula‘s eleven maidens, and/or Hugues de Payens rather than pagan idols.

The charges of heresy included spitting, trampling, or urinating on the cross; while naked, being kissed obscenely by the receptor on the lips, navel, and base of the spine; heresy and worship of idols; institutionalized sodomy; and also accusations of contempt of the Holy Mass and denial of the sacraments. Barbara Frale has suggested that these acts were intended to simulate the kind of humiliation and torture that a Crusader might be subjected to if captured by the Saracens. According to this line of reasoning, they were taught how to commit apostasy with the mind only and not with the heart.

The accusation of venerating Baphomet is more problematic. Karen Ralls has noted, “There is no mention of Baphomet either in the Templar Rule or in other medieval period Templar documents”. The late scholar Hugh J. Schonfieldspeculated that the chaplains of the Knights Templar created the term Baphomet through the Atbash cipher to encrypt theGnostic term Sophia (Greek for “wisdom“) due to the influence of hypothetical Qumran Essene scrolls, which they may have found during archaeological digs in the Kingdom of Jerusalem.

Roman Catholic Church’s position

The papal process started by Pope Clement V, to investigate both the Order as a whole and its members individually found virtually no knights guilty of heresy outside France. Fifty-four knights were executed in France by French authorities asrelapsed heretics after denying their original testimonies before the papal commission; these executions were motivated by Philip’s desire to prevent Templars from mounting an effective defence of the Order. It failed miserably, as many members testified against the charges of heresy in the ensuing papal investigation.

Jacques de Molay, nineteenth-century color lithograph by Chevauchet

Despite the poor defense of the Order, when the papal commission ended its proceedings on June 5, 1311, it found no evidence that the Order itself held heretical doctrines, or used a “secret rule” apart from the Latin and French rules. On October 16, 1311, at the General Council of Vienne held in Dauphiné, the council voted for the maintenance of the Order.

But on March 22, 1312, Clement V promulgated the bull Vox in excelsis in which he stated that although there was not sufficient reason to condemn the Order, for the common good, the hatred of the Order by Philip IV, the scandal brought about by their trial, and the likely dilapidation of the Order that would result from the trial, the Order was to be suppressed by the pope’s authority over it. But the order explicitly stated that dissolution was enacted, “with a sad heart, not by definitive sentence, but by apostolic provision.

This was followed by the papal bull Ad Providum on May 2, 1312, which granted all of the Order’s lands and wealth to the Hospitallers so that its original purpose could be met, despite Philip’s wishes that the lands in France pass to him. Philip held onto some lands until 1318, and in England the crown and nobility held a great deal until 1338; in many areas of Europe the land was never given over to the Hospitaller Order, instead taken over by nobility and monarchs in an attempt to lessen the influence of the Church and its Orders. Of the knights who had not admitted to the charges, against those whom nothing had been found, or those who had admitted but been reconciled to the Church, some joined the Hospitallers (even staying in the same Templar houses); others joined Augustinian or Cistercian houses; and still others returned to secular life with pension. In Portugal and Aragon, the Holy See granted the properties to two new Orders, the Order of Christ and the Order of Montesa respectively, made up largely of Templars in those kingdoms. In the same bull, he urged those who had pleaded guilty be treated “according to the rigours of justice.”[citation needed]

Two Templars burned at the stake, including Jacques de Molay, from a French 15th-century manuscript

In the end, the only three accused of heresy directly by the papal commission wereJacques de Molay, Grand Master of the Knights Templar, and his two immediate subordinates; they were to renounce their heresy publicly, when de Molay regained his courage and proclaimed the order’s and his innocence along with Geoffrey de Charney. The two were arrested by French authorities as relapsed heretics andburned at the stake in 1314. Their ashes were then ground up and dumped into theSeine, so as to leave no relics behind.

In England the Crown was also deeply in debt to the Templars, and probably on that basis, the Templars were also persecuted in England, their lands forfeited and taken by others, (the last private owner being the favorite of Edward II, Hugh le Despenser). Many of Templars in England were killed; some fled to Scotland and other places. In France, Philip IV, who was also coincidentally in terrible financial debt to the Templars was perhaps the more aggressive persecutor. So widely was the injustice of Philip’s rage against the Templars perceived that the “Curse of the Templars” became legend: Reputedly uttered by the Grand Master Jacques de Molay upon the stake whence he burned, he adjured: “Within one year, God will summon both Clement and Philip to His Judgment for these actions.” The fact that both rulers died within a year, as predicted, only heightened the scandal surrounding the suppression of the Order. The source of this legend does not date from the time of the execution of Jacques de Molay.

Chinon and Absolution

In September 2001, Barbara Frale discovered a copy of the Chinon Parchment dated 17–20 August 1308 in the Vatican Secret Archives, a document that indicated that Pope Clement V absolved the leaders of the Order in 1308. Frale published her findings in the Journal of Medieval History in 2004[37] In 2007, The Vatican published the Chinon Parchment as part of a limited edition of 799 copies of Processus Contra Templarios. Another Chinon parchment dated 20 August 1308 addressed to Philip IV of France, well known to historians, stated that absolution had been granted to all those Templars that had confessed to heresy “and restored them to the Sacraments and to the unity of the Church”.