Ancient Esoteric Roots & Origins of the Templar Order
Foundations in the Temple of Solomon
The Knights Templar were first established in 1118 AD in Jerusalem by nine French knights, under the leadership of Hughes de Payens of Champagne, Godefroi de Saint-Omer, and Count Fulk of Anjou (who quickly became King Fulk of Jerusalem). It is established in the historical record that “Baldwin II, King of Jerusalem, gave the Knights Templars quarters in his palace, built on the site of Solomon’s Temple.” 
The initial motivation of the first Templars to obtain access to the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem traces further back to the Saxon Cistercian Abbot of Citeaux, Stephen Harding, known to be a friend and mentor of Bernard de Clairvaux. As explained by the French historical researcher Michael Lamy, the Abbot pursued a “sudden interest” in translating Old Testament texts from Hebrew, because “they revealed that a hidden treasure lay buried beneath the Temple Mount. This is why the lay patron of the Cistercians, Count Hugh of Champagne, went to Jerusalem and instigated his vassal” Hughes de Payens “to establish” the Order of the Temple of Solomon on the Temple Mount. 
The site of “The Temple” of Solomon (and also its later replica reconstruction by Herod) is generally accepted to have stood on the full territory of the Temple Mount, which runs underneath and around both the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, which are adjacent to each other.
Al-Aqsa Mosque, first built ca.650 AD, stands on a platform supported by arches constructed by Herod the Great ca.20 BC. It was Al-Aqsa Mosque that was used as a royal palace, thus being the palace of King Baldwin II, where the Templars were given quarters in 1118 AD. The Dome of the Rock, first built ca.690 AD, was known to the first Templars as the proper site of (or central access point to) the Temple of Solomon. Thus, the Templars set up their headquarters in Al Aqsa, but conducted excavations in the adjacent Dome of the Rock.
The Dome of the Rock is located at the visual centre of the Temple Mount, and was constructed using the model and almost the precise measurements of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, featuring an octagonal “rotunda” as a rounded ceremonial space, such that 4 sides would be visible from looking at one side of the structure. Therefore, it is the Dome of the Rock that is represented on the earlier official Templar Seal symbolizing the Temple of Solomon, although it is actually depicted as the stylized image of the rotunda of the Church of the Holy Supulchre.
The fact that King Baldwin II’s palace on Mount Moriah was built upon the same site as the ancient Temple of Solomon, was confirmed by the 5th century Byzantine historian Procopius of Caesarea, and also by the 19th century British lawyer and historian Charles G. Addison. 
The famous historian Flavius Josephus confirmed that King Herod’s Temple in Jerusalem was built on top of the same site as the original King Solomon’s Temple, documenting it as having many detailed characteristics that very closely follow the Biblical description of King Solomon’s Temple, and specifically featuring representations of the heavenly sphere of the constellations related to the Zodiac. 
Flavius Josephus, as the governor of Galilee, was in dispute with the governor of Tiberias, where King Herod’s Temple was located. Josephus burned and destroyed the Temple because it contained “figures of living creatures within it”, a reference to the Egyptian pantheon of “deities”, Egyptian hieroglyphs, and also Zodiac signs involving animals.  This historical witness description of Herod’s Temple mirrors the account of Ezekiel in Genesis that when he looked into the Holy of Holies within Solomon’s Temple, he was shocked to see “paintings… and other mythological scenes, motifs which seemed to point to syncretistic practices of Egyptian provenance.” 
It should be noted that the earliest appearance of the Zodiac in human history, from the archaeological record, was in the Egyptian Temple of Dendera. One of the chapels within Dendera featured an astrological zodiac combining animal representations of constellations with Egyptian “deities” of various animal characteristics. The original zodiac was removed by Napolean’s Expedition, and is now preserved in the Louvre museum, while Dendera Temple was restored by an authentic replica copy. 
Although the Dendera necropolis complex began as early as the Early Dynastic period (ca.3100 BC), its oldest surviving building is dated to ca. 370 BC, and its development stopped during the Roman period (ca. 60 AD).  This indicates that the first Zodiac was developed in Egypt some time during the approximately 400 years (ca.155 BC) leading up to the time of Jesus and the beginning of Christianity, so its appearance in the Temple of Solomon and later Herod’s Temple is highly significant.
The historical record thus documents that the archaeological excavation of the Temple of Jerusalem, by the founding Templar Knights, included the first direct access to remnants of Herod’s Temple, and also underneath it remnants and underground levels of Solomon’s Temple. The historical records indicate that this archaeological exploration would have revealed extensive evidence that the Temple of Solomon and priesthood of King Solomon, as well as the ancient roots of Christianity itself, were essentially and fundamentally pharaonic Egyptian.
This establishes that archaeology and Egyptology are literally the foundation and cornerstone of both Christianity and Templarism.
The official Templar Seals celebrated this fact in only slightly coded symbolism, conspicuously replacing the Latin letters “Chr” in the spelling of Christ (in distinctly Latin words), instead using the Greek letters “XP”, pronounced “Cai-Ro”. This was prominent symbolism reminding the Templars of the ancient Egyptian roots of Christianity, by pronouncing the ancient capital city of “Cairo” in Egypt.
The Power of Ancient Secrets: The Importance of Archaeology
The original founding Knights and first two Grand Masters formed the Templar Order primarily as a result of their archaeological findings under the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem, from which they derived the name “Templar” (“of the Temple”). In effect, the Knights Templar were directly inspired, created, and rose to power on the basis of their archaeological excavation and discoveries under the Temple of Solomon.
Many modern researchers of medieval history have concluded that the first Templars essentially stayed underground deep within the Temple of Solomon, mostly not resurfacing except to send for supplies, for several years. “The Templars’ apparent lack of activity in their formative years, seems to have been due to some form of covert project beneath the Temple of Solomon or nearby, an operation that could not be revealed to any but a few high-ranking Nobles.” 
Authoritative experts and specialist researchers have come to the same conclusion as the British historian Henry Lincoln, that the Knights Templar conducted archaeological excavation of the Temple of Solomon for a full 9 years. 
The resulting time frame established is highly significant. The Vatican gave patronage to the Templars with a grant of essentially “unlimited power” 10 years after the Order was established by King Baldwin II. Since the Templars resurfaced from excavations 9 years after they were formed, this means that the Vatican gave them such power only 1 year after they finished processing their archaeological discoveries.
The context provided by these facts is deeply revealing of the importance of the archaeological discoveries made. Of that 1 year difference, it would take approximately 3 months for the Knights to travel from Jerusalem to the Vatican in Rome, at least 3 months for the Vatican to make official decisions, and at least 6 months to develop, prepare and implement the Roman Catholic version of the Knights Templar, which is precisely what happened.
This means that the Templars basically “ran” to the Vatican, directly and immediately, to present their discoveries as fast as possible. It also means that the Vatican responded overwhelmingly to that presentation, moving as quickly as any such international institution possibly could do, to “immediately” grant the Templars unprecedented powers.
These historical facts evidence that whatever the Templar Knights found underground within the Temple of Solomon, it was so fascinating, important, inspiring, and voluminous in quantity of texts and artifacts, that it drove them to “obsession” (or at least devout dedication), relentlessly processing the discoveries on-site, despite difficult underground conditions, for 9 whole years.
The same facts also evidence that whatever the Knights Templar found, it was so important, and had such potential to so profoundly affect the fundamental bases and authorities of the Vatican to its very core, that it caused the Vatican to “instantly” grant overwhelming power and immunity to the Templars within less than 1 year, even though the Church had no previous relationship with the newly formed Order.
The belief demonstrated by the actions of the first Knights Templar, that archaeology itself is a sacred and holy mission of primary importance to the underlying founding roots of Christianity, is supported by a key fact in Vatican history.
Pope Gregory XVI founded the “Gregorian Egyptian Museum” in the Vatican in 1837 AD, featuring a large collection of ancient priestly texts, including original papyrus scrolls and reproductions of the Book of the Dead, as well as mummies and sarcophagi bearing significant religious and symbolic inscriptions. The collection focuses on ancient artifacts which trace the roots of early Coptic Christianity back to Pharaonic times.
That emphasis of the museum’s exhibits supports the reports of historians, that the Pope had founded the Vatican Egyptology museum with the intent that Catholics studying ancient Egyptian history would thereby increase their understanding of the Bible. This little known fact was confirmed by leading archaeologist Hector Avalos, a Ph.D. in Biblical studies from Harvard University and professor at Iowa State University.  That historical fact confirms the fact that archaeology is an integral and essential part of both Christianity in general, and “Templarism” in particular.
Ancient Magi Origins from the Middle East
The Solomonic Temple, first archaeologically excavated by the founding Knights Templar, was fundamentally Pharaonic Egyptian, thereby also preserving the most ancient esoteric knowledge derived from earlier Sumerian Mesopotamia. This highly developed tradition embodied the timeless arts and sciences of the Eastern “Magi”, represented by the revered Biblical figure of King Melchizedek. At the core of the secrets of the Temple is the ancient Egyptian “Benu bird” of spiritual alchemy later called the “Phoenix”.
The guardians of this mystery school throughout many millennia of human history were essentially “warrior priest kings”, thus being the earliest form of “noble warrior monks”, and the direct predecessors of the medieval Knights Templar. Under the sovereign patronage of King Fulk of Jerusalem, the first Templars discovered, learned and mastered the ancient esoteric tradition, becoming the embodiment
and continuation of this most ancient sacred Order. Although the Order had many names over many millennia, the Biblical concept given as an implied name is the “Order of Melchizedek”.
The significance of archaeological findings by the first Templars was characterized by connecting the roots of Christianity to ancient history of Pharaonic Egypt and even earlier ancient Mesopotamia. The Biblical source of all ancient origins of Judeo-Christianity is that of King Melchizedek from the Old Testament book of Genesis, who reappears in the New Testament. Melchizedek appears as a key figure in Templar mythology, spirituality and symbolism, representing those most ancient roots.
The name Melchizedek comes from the ancient words “Melek Zedek”, which meant “King of Peace”. The name of the Biblical King Solomon comes from the word “Shalom” meaning “Peace”. Thus, Melchizedek and Solomon were both “King of Peace”, and Melchizedek is the ancient precursor and prior source of priesthood for the Biblical figure of Solomon.
Therefore, the deeper founding roots of the Order of the Temple of Solomon indicate that fundamentally, in its origins, it is really the “Order of Melchizedek”, an ancient esoteric and priestly tradition that was rediscovered by the first Knights of Solomon under the Temple of Solomon.
The famous Templar stronghold of Chartres Cathedral in France, designed and built by the Templars, features an Old Testament scene of Melchizedek presenting the holy sacrament of communion to Abraham with a chalice (Genesis 14:18-20). This scene, prominently displayed by the Templars as a statue at the northern entrance named the “Gate of the Initiates”, signifies that the ancient figure of Melchizedek is at the heart of the esoteric mysteries known by the highest level of Templar initiates. 
During early medieval times, the esoteric knowledge and mysticism of the Melchizedek tradition was largely preserved in the occult societies of the Middle East, connected to the ancient Egyptian priesthood, and embodying ancient Sumerian and Mesopotamian mystery schools.
As a result of their perpetual wisdom-seeking during Middle Eastern missions, the Templars “were strongly influenced by both the Gnostics and the Assassins (a ruthless Arabic military order). It is a fact that several of the founders of the Knights Templars were initiates in the sect of the Assassins.” While adopting many religious beliefs from the Gnostics, the Templars “received many of their organizational and political traits from the Assassins. The Templars represented the first wide-scale attempt to organize and mobilize the forces of occultism for the purpose of gaining control of the world.” 
During Saladin’s siege of Aleppo, on May 22, 1176 AD, the Arabic “Assassins” actually attempted to murder the Muslim General Saladin. This fact supports the otherwise only generally documented influence of the Assassins on the Templars, and confirms an actual alliance between the Assassins and the Knights Templar.
The Templars were also greatly influenced by the Isma’ilis, who were a secret sect of Gnostic Muslims. According to the historian S. Ameer Ali, an Indian lawyer who traced his ancestry to Imam Ali Al-Raza and Muhammad: “From the Isma’ilis the Crusaders borrowed the conception which led to the formation of all the secret societies, religious and secular, of Europe. The institutions of Templars and Hospitallers; the Society of Jesus, founded by Ignatius Loyola, composed by a body of men whose devotion to their cause can hardly be surpassed in our time; the ferocious Dominicans, the milder Franciscans – may all be traced either to Cairo or to Alamut. The Knights Templar especially, with their system of grand masters, grand priors and religious devotees, and their degrees of initiation, bear the strongest analogy to the Eastern Isma’ilis.”
Researchers closely link the Arabic mysticism of the Ismailis to Gnosticism. “Ismai’ili theology was thus revelationary in character. The haqa’iq transcended human reason and ultimately derived from Gnostic doctrines, considering the principles of spiritual and physical worlds in Neoplatonic terms. The Gnostics held that the physical world had been created by an inferior deity, the Yahweh of the Old Testament, who was allowed a certain lassitude until God decided to send His son to inhabit the body of Jesus and free the world from false teachings. Certain Gnostic notions passed into Islam when Mohammed adopted the Gnostic idea that the body which was crucified was only a phantom which the Jews and Romans could not harm.” 
Both the Assassins and Ismailis were branches of the Gnostic Sufis, who actively practiced spiritual alchemy, and in turn preserved more ancient Magi priesthoods from Pharaonic Egypt and earlier Mesopotamia.
The Sufi priests were direct lineal descendants from the Djedhi priesthood of Egypt, which was the elite group of Magi High Priests, who were guardians and protectors of esoteric knowledge and spiritual wisdom, and thus an earlier model of “Knights” as “spiritual warriors”. Old Kingdom 4th Dynasty papyrus scrolls, dated ca.2550 BC (which were recopied for preservation during the 17th Dynasty ca.1560 BC), contain historical accounts of “Prince Ra-Djed-Ef” of the elite Djedhi Priests being sought by the Pharaoh King Khufu, who is associated with designing and building the Great Pyramid.
The Djedhi Priests, in turn, were direct descendants from even earlier Magi from “Persia”, being ancient Mesopotamia. The Mesopotamian Magi High Priests, called “Narts”, were established by King Jamshid of the first Persian kings, during the Persian Golden Age, which historians have dated to as early as 20,000 BC. The Narts were Magi “warrior priests” under the most famous King Key-Khosrow, who is considered by historians to be the legendary and literary basis for many of the Arthurian tales, often called the “Persian King Arthur”. The Narts also had a Holy Grail, called the “Nartmongue”, literally the “Chalice of the Knights”. The word “Narts” is very likely to be the origin of the Old English word “Knights”.
According to the Sufi scholar and historian Idries Shah (1924-1996 AD), as soon as the Sufis learned that the first Knights Templar were excavating the Temple of Solomon, those Magi (from the Al-Banna sect) immediately left Egypt to join the Templars in Jerusalem. The Sufi Magi extensively taught and trained the first Templars during their formative years underneath the Temple Mount. They knew that the Temple of Solomon was Pharaonic Egyptian and connected to the Djedhi priesthood of Magi, and knew that the Templars would need some direct assistance to learn and master the sacred knowledge that the Knights would discover there.
Later when the Templars were more widely established, having fortresses in Syria as well, the Grand Master of the Al-Banna Sufi Magi, Dhul-Nun Al-Misri, visited and brought Magi masters to the Templar castles in Syria to reinforce their training and perfect their mastery of the most ancient Magi Priesthood. Additionally, the Grand Master of the Assassins, Rashid al-Din Sinan of Syria (1132-1192 AD) provided extensive cooperation and Magi training of the Templars in the nearby Assassin castles in Syria. The historical record indicates that the Templars even had an affectionate nickname for the Assassin Grand Master, known as a Magi “ascended master”, calling him “Old Man of the Mountains”.
Therefore, the Order of the Temple of Solomon, from the original Knights Templar, is the direct lineal continuation of the most ancient Magi High Priesthood, carrying forward a sacred tradition of approximately 22,000 years of human history.
The Templar Museum at Domme, France displays a replica of Templar graffiti engraved on stone (photographed by William Henry) at Domme Chateau. The engraved symbols feature six crosses with pyramid bases, such that the leg of the cross starts at the base of the pyramid and rises up through its apex, and two crosses appearing to be morphed versions of the Egyptian ankh.
During the 18th century, George Frederick Johnson, a Scottish mason exiled in France, developed and helped popularize many historical interpretations emphasizing that the Templars were not merely warrior-monks, but also “enlightened and wise knightly seers, who had used their sojourn in the East to recover its profoundest secrets, and to emancipate themselves from medieval Catholic” influence. 
 Collier’s Encyclopedia, 1985, “Knights Templars”.
 Michael Lamy, Les Templiers: Ces Grand Seigneurs aux Blancs Manteaux, p.28.
 Charles G. Addison, The History of the Knights Templar, 1842, p.6, citing the document De Aedificiis by historian Procopius of Caesarea as “Procopius de Oedificiis Justiniani, lib. 5.”
 Josephus, Jewish War, Loeb Classical Library, translation by William Whiston (1736), 5:212 and 5:217.
 Josephus, Life, Loeb Classical Library, translation by William Whiston (1736), p.65.
 Old Testament, Genesis 31:9.
 Richard Wilkinson, The Complete Temples of Ancient Egypt, Thames & Hudson (2000), p.150.
 Ian Shaw & Paul Nicholson, British Museum Dictionary of Ancient Egypt, American University in Cairo Press (1996), “Dendera”, p.84.
 Keith Laidler, The Head of God: The Lost Treasure of the Templars, London (1998), p.177; Piers Paul Read, The Templars, Phoenix Press, London (2001), p.305.
 Henry Lincoln, Shadow of the Templars, documentary film, BBC London (1979), at 8:05 min.
 Hector Avalos, How Archaeology Killed Biblical History, Lecture Video, October 21, 2007, Minnesota Atheists Conference, USA.
 Louis Charpentier, The Mysteries of Chartres Cathedral, Research Into Lost Knowledge Organization with Thorsons Press, Wellingborough, 1972, Chapter 18, p.147.
 Edith Miller, Occult Theocracy, Hawthorne, California, The Christian Book Club of America, 1993, p.143.
 Edward Burman, The Assassins – Holy Killers of Islam.
 Peter Partner, The Murdered Magicians, p.xix.