Thursday, March 8, 2012

Knights Templar and the Ark of the Covenant from Tarah Scott

I was recently asked if the legend of Colin Morrison and his enchantment in Castle Morrison found in my book Labyrinth was based on real history. I couldn’t have been more flattered as this Scottish legend was completely of my own making. But, of course, I drew upon mythology and history to create a believable make-believe legend. One element I used in Labyrinth that I hadn’t previously used in any of my books was the Knights Templars. There is a great deal of myth surrounding this order of knights, and loads of fiction has been written involving them.

In Labyrinth, my villainess was on a hunt for the legendary treasure the Templars supposedly left behind when they were arrested. Talk about a treasure hunter’s dream!

One of the most famous movies surrounding the legend of the Templars guarding the Ark of the Covenant is Indiana Jones Raiders of the Lost Ark. But does anyone know how the Ark of the Covenant came to be associated with the Templars?

First, for those who may not be familiar with the Templar history, a quick overview.

It is generally accepted that, for the first nine years of their existence, the Templars consisted of nine members. Within two decades of the victory of the First Crusade (1095-1099) a group of knights led by Hugues de Payens offered themselves to the Patriarch of Jerusalem to serve as a military force.

Over the years, the Templars rose from their humble beginnings to become the wealthiest of the Crusading Orders.

(1268-1314) King Philip IV of France, who was already heavily in debt to the Knights Templar, requested a further loan. The Knights Templar refused his request. King Philip IV subsequently ordered the arrest of all Knight Templars in France. The order to arrest the Templars was sent out several weeks before the date possibly giving the Templars time to hide their wealth. On 11 October, two days before the arrest of many Templar Knights, it is recorded in French Masonic history that Templar ships left La Rochelle, heading to Scotland.

On Friday the 13th, in October 1307, Jacques de Molay, the Grand Master of the Knights Templar, and 60 of his senior knights were arrested in Paris. They were charged with heresy and accused of homosexual acts. Admissions of guilt were extracted due to the use of torture. Pope Clement V initiated enquiries into the order and thousands of Knights Templar were arrested across Europe. The Medieval order of the Knights Templar become extinct in 1312 when the order is dissolved by the Council of Vienne. Anyone found sheltering a Templar was under threat of excommunication. Much of the Templar property outside of France was transferred by the Pope to the Knights Hospitallers, and many surviving Templars were also accepted into the Hospitallers.

Now let’s back up to the 1180s.

Below Jebel Madhbah, to the north, lies a valley called Wadi Musa – Arabic for the “Valley of Moses”. For years this valley was an important trade route through the Shara Mountains and by Roman times the splendid city of Petra had been built here. In the twelfth century, Crusaders from European countries such as France and England conquered Jerusalem and set up a Christian kingdom in what is now Israel. In order to protect Christian interests in the region, the Knights Templar, briefly occupied the ruined city of Petra and built a series of forts to protect the trading route that ran through the Wadi Musa.

According to the Arab chronicler Numairi, who wrote around AD 1300, these knights discovered a sealed cave at Jebel Madhbah where they found “treasures of pure gold, precious stones and a golden chest.”

There was no specific reference to the Ark of the Covenant, but the knights claimed that these were holy relics that had belonged to the ancient Israelites. Numairi describes the chest as being made from paneled gold with two winged figures on the lid which he describes as being similar to ancient statues that still survived in his native Egypt. Unfortunately, he does not give the dimensions of the chest, which may have been any size. If it was large, however, it does sound very similar to the Ark. In fact, according to the Bible the Ark was made shortly after the Israelites had left Egypt and, as they had been enslaved there for generations, their craftsmen may well have been influenced by Egyptian art.

Now tell me that doesn't look like every picture or movie you've seen about the Covenant of the Ark.

I'll be giving away a Kindle copy of the erotic time travel/paranormal romance Labyrinth.

Yes, magic exists. Not the backwater voodoo witches practice where Mississippi Deputy Sheriff Margot Saulnier grew up. But the age-old black magic a woman weaves around a man that draws him under her spell. The kind Margot’s best friend used to kill her husband…and get away with it.

Margot chases her friend to Scotland, determined to prove her guilty of murder. No one will stop Margot. Not the SAS agent sent to watch her…and not the Scottish lord legend says murders his lovers when they cannot free him from the spell that has imprisoned him in Castle Morrison for three hundred years.

He’s just a legend.
And magick doesn’t exist.


Award winning published author Tarah Scott cut her teeth on authors such as Georgette Heyer, Zane Grey, and Amanda Quick. Her favorite book is A Tale of Two Cities, with Gone With the Wind as a close second. She writes classical romance, suspense, horror and mainstream.

Born in New Mexico, Tarah grew up in the Southwest. Fifteen years ago, she relocated to Westchester County, New York, where she and her daughter reside in a lakeside community. Don’t be fooled by what sounds like a quiet life. The city that never sleeps is only an hour away, and this Texas girl and her New York bred daughter wouldn’t have it any other way.



  1. Great post, Tarah! Love the overview for those of us who don't write/research that era. Indy was about all I "knew" about the Templar.

    1. Thanks, Jennifer. Glad you enjoyed it.

  2. Fascinating post, Tarah!!! Have you seen the movie Arn? (or read the book?) I just watched it. Excellent flick. I am just enthralled with Templar history.

    1. I haven't seen that one, Eliza. What's it about?

  3. Thank you Tarah for the great background to your book. I always wonder, when I'm reading the book, what type of research an author goes through in order to develop their story. Thank you.


  4. Thank you Tarah!! It is amazing the amount of research that has to be done for stories. I love learning about history through different genres. I think we get a different point of view. Better than sitting through lectures. :)


  5. Thanks, ladies. Most of the research we do for books doesn't go into the book. But researching is half the fun of writing. Reading and learning are part of the reason I write. What better excuse to study something?

  6. Thanks everyone for visiting with me. Mel and Lynn, I'm going to give you both a kindle copy of Labyrinth.

  7. The Knights Templar, establishing their decline in 'our' contemporary community. The community itself, while greatly different from our own, is amazingly identical often.

    Skull and Bones

  8. They found the Ark of the Covenant! Christ tomb and Crucifixion site buried under a trash pile at the foot of Skull Mountain in Jerusalem.