A tunnel has been discovered beneath the city of Acre in Israel which experts believe was used by the Knights Templar and could well indeed be how they transported and stored their treasure.
In the Middle Ages, when the Catholic Church was a major power player on the world stage, The Knights Templar had a huge role in helping the church retain its position. The Knights Templar were a group of warrior monks, who were tasked with the mission of protecting European visitors who came to visit holy sites in Israel, as well as functioning as the church’s military arm. They were headquartered first in Jerusalem, then in Acre, Israel and were considered mysterious and powerful. They were also known to have a great deal of wealth.
The Templars have figured heavily into many different legends and conspiracy theories and have been featured in fictional works like the Da Vinci Code and Indiana Jones. They fought for God, gold, and glory as crusaders trying to maintain a Christian foothold in the Middle East.
The city of Acre is where the order ultimately fell, in the final years of the 13th century, leaving behind their compound which has long since fallen to ruin. However, a recent report in the British publication the Independent said that archaeologists have discovered a series of underground tunnels which the militant order may have used to move their wealth to their “treasure tower”.
The tunnels led to the remains of the Templar’s headquarters and are around 800 years old.
Dr. Albert Lin, an American Archaeologist, talked about the find as part of a new documentary from National Geographic. His team used LIDAR (similar to Radar) to search the area where the headquarters were believed to have stood. The LIDAR helped them build a 3-D map of the ruins, and it revealed both the tunnels and a small guardhouse buried beneath modern Acre.
The ruins of the Templar headquarters and the treasure tower are buried deep underground and haven’t been excavated as yet, since no one knows if the Templar’s treasure is actually there, but the tunnels wind their way below the streets, giving the Templars a way to secretly move their gold from the city’s port to the tower.
The Knights Templar’s history in the Middle East spans about 300 years, encompassing some nine Crusades. The order was established in 1119 and received papal recognition a decade later. The Templars were founded when a group of seven knights made a vow to protect Christian pilgrims in the Holy Land, and it began as a monastic brotherhood, with its members living together as part of a closed community in Jerusalem.
The king of Jerusalem gave the order his palace, which used to be commonly known as the Temple of Solomon, giving the new order it’s full name, the Order of the Knights of the Temple of Solomon, which was shortened over time to the Templars.
Over the years, the Templars received all manner of donations from Christians who believed that theirs was a worthy cause. Those donations were sometimes money but also included things like land, food, equipment, and horses. That, mixed with assets gained as spoils of war and wise investments, led the order to become very wealthy. They even ended up effectively becoming bankers, since their communities were seen as safe places for rulers to store their own wealth, and the knights also loaned money to various heads of state.
Unfortunately, but perhaps unsurprisingly, over the centuries the Templars stuck to their mission, but support from European states began to wane as the upper levels of European nobility began both to feel threatened by their wealth and power, and also to feel disinclined to repay the loans they had received from the warrior monks.
They were accused of abusing the privileges they received as part of the church as well as of corruption and greed. By the end of the 13th century and the early part of the 14th, between the loss of the Crusader states in the Levant (a part of the kingdom of Jerusalem) and the general demonization of the Order, the organization essentially collapsed. Pope Clement V ordered the arrest of all Templars in Western Europe and the seizure of all their property. By 1312, the Order a whole was disbanded; the remaining Knights were pensioned off and forbidden from joining another order.
Despite the Order’s dissolution, some people still believe that not all of the Templar’s secrets have been discovered, including the secret of where they kept all the wealth they were supposed to have. Lin’s discovery of this Knights Templar tunnel may be the beginning of finally answering some of those questions.