Christianity ‘turned to archaeology to promote bible’ says expert
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The Knights Templar was an order of devout Christians founded in Jerusalem somewhere between 1118 and 1119 AD. This was after the First Crusade, a series of religious wars initiated and supported by the Roman Catholic Church to recover the Holy Land from Islamic rule. The Order was created to protect Europeans travelling to the Holy Land, among other things.
They were known across Europe as an elite fighting force with a strict code of conduct.
While the Order was, at an individual level, sworn to poverty, it later went on to amass great wealth, exempted from paying tax and with donations pouring in from all over Europe.
Joining the Knights Templar was a highly secretive process.
Like any exclusive club or society of the time, new members were required to undergo initiation before being accepted.
Some of the more bizarre and outlandish tales of the initiations were explored during the Smithsonian Channel’s documentary, ‘Sacred Sites: Templars’.
The documentary’s narrator said: “During the Templar trials, members of the Order described how initiates were required to perform bizarre sexual rites, bestowing obscene kisses on the bodies of senior members.
“They confess to spitting and trampling on the cross, and denying the dignity of Jesus.”
Dr Edward Coleman, of University College Dublin, said: “The accusations that have been levelled at the Templars are extremely lured, and have always attracted a great deal of attention.
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“But they are there in black and white in the trial depositions, so we have to address them and assess them.”
Most shocking of all, however, was the testimony involving a decapitated head.
As the narrator explained: “There is testimony that the Templars worshipped a sinister bearded head.”
This later became known as “Baphomet”, a deity that subsequently became incorporated into various occult and mystic traditions.
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It has been described as a “head with one or two faces, sometimes bearded and sometimes not”, since 1856 associated with the ‘Sabbatic Goat’ image drawn by Éliphas Lévi.
Juliet Faith, author of, ‘The Knights Templar in Somerset’, said: “Sometimes brothers described it as having four feet, some said it was made of silver, others said it was made of gold.”
It was also rumoured to be the preserved head of the first Templar Grandmaster, Hugues de Payens.
While little was said of the head during the trials — only sparing descriptions were made — more exists in historic accounts.
Guillaume de Arbley, the preceptor of the Templar house at Soissy in the diocese of Meaux, in 1307 claimed that he had seen a bearded head twice.
He said it was gilded, and made of silver and wood.
Three years later, in 1310, he again claimed to have seen the head, this time placed on Templar altars as a representation of the 11,000 virgins from the legend of Saint Ursula.
Many other theories have since surfaced.
One claims the Templars were in possession of the Shroud of Turin, a piece of linen which some say is the burial shroud in which Jesus was wrapped after crucifixion.
Another theory suggests the Templars were experimenting with alchemy after coming into contact with it in the East, the ‘head’ being some sort of creation.
The various myths have captured the imagination and attention of countless scholars ever since.
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