AN EXTRAORDINARY discovery in Israel has uncovered lost secrets of the Knights Templar.
Archaeologists have found evidence of a lost set of tunnels used by the infamous warrior monks 800 years ago to shift vast amounts of gold to their famous “treasure tower”.
Scientists have used LiDAR scans to reconstruct an ancient fortress used by the Knights TemplarCredit: National Geographic
The project in the ancient coastal city of Acre also found the first remnants of the group’s lavish fortress headquarters.
A team of archaeologists led by American explorer Dr Albert Lin unveiled the stunning find as part of a new National Geographic documentary.
“I’m in Israel in search of the Knights Templar. These warrior monks are the stuff of legend, and so is their gold,” Dr Lin said during the programme’s broadcast on Sunday.
“During the Crusades the Knights Templar battle for God, gold and glory. Somewhere in the modern city of Acre lies their command centre, and possibly their treasure.
Explorer Dr Albert Lin says he’s discovered tunnels used by the Templars 800 years ago under the city of Acre, IsraelCredit: National Geographic
“It’s the stuff of childhood dreams. I’m here to find them.”
The Knights Templar was a large organisation of devout Christians renowned for their fearsome battle skills during the medieval era.
They fought in the Crusades that began during the 11th Century and were later tasked with protecting European travellers visiting sites in the Holy Land.
Dr Lin and his team scanned a site in the port city of Acre, a key fortress for the group during the Third Crusade, using LiDAR technology.
CGI recreation of the ancient fortress of Acre, IsraelCredit: National Geographic
LiDAR uses lasers and high-tech detectors to peer deep into the Earth without disturbing ancient artefacts.
The Nat Geo group’s scans revealed secret tunnels and a guard house hidden beneath the modern metropolis.
By scanning their fortress footprint they brought the Templar’s HQ in the Holy Land back to life for the first time with 3D models.
The work revealed how the warriors moved their gold from the port to their infamous Treasure Tower.
Who were The Knights Templar?
Here’s what you need to know…
The Knights Templar were a highly-trained Catholic military order who fought in the Holy Land during the time of the Crusades that began in the eleventh century.
They were hailed for their courage in battle and were the original custodians of the Turin Shroud.
The organisation was hugely wealthy and wielded significant political muscle.
With their military presence no longer required following the Crusades they remained powerful as bankers and money lenders and many of Europe’s dynasties were indebted to them.
To wipe out his debts to the Templars, King Phillip of France hatched a plot to destroy them.
Backed by the Pope, on the evening of Friday 13th of October, 1307, Templars were arrested all over France and charged with heresy.
That earned Friday the 13th its place in superstition for being unlucky.
From the 18th century onwards the freemasons adopted symbols and rituals of the order – that played a central role in Dan Brown’s blockbuster The Da Vinci Code.
The Knights Templar’s fabled treasure has become the stuff of legends since their untimely demise in the early 1300s.
But Dr Lin believed he’d revealed the possible site of its last location for the first time.
“The Templar’s hidden tunnels snaked beneath the streets,” Dr Lin said.
“They secretly transported gold to the Acre fortress’ crowning glory, its treasure tower.”
The tower is buried under metres of dirt and rock, and it’s not clear if there will be an expedition to excavate it in future.
“The full magnificence of Acre’s fortress was preserved for those arriving by sea,” Dr Lin said.
“Its mighty sea defences and lookout towers stood against any invader.
Lost Cities with Albert Lin airs 8pm Sundays on National Geographic.
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In other news, an ancient wine factory built by Crusaders 700 years ago was unearthed in Israel in August.
Mysterious medieval carvings were recently found inside 800-year-old Knights Templar catacombs under a set of Hertfordshire crossroads.
And, a 5,000-year-old mega-city dubbed the “Bronze Age New York” was found in Israel in August.
What do you think of the incredible find? Let us know in the comments!
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