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First Knights Templar are discovered
April 10, 2006
LONDON: The first bodies of the Knights Templar, the mysterious religious order at the heart of The Da Vinci Code, have been found by archaeologists near the River Jordan in northern Israel.
British historian Tom Asbridge yesterday hailed the find as the first provable example of actual Knights Templar.
The remains were found beneath the ruined walls of Jacob's Ford, an overthrown castle dating back to the Crusades, which had been lost for centuries.
They can be dated to the exact day -- August 29, 1179 -- that they were killed by Saladin, the feared Muslim leader who captured the fortress.
"Never before has it been possible to trace their remains to such an exact time in history,' Mr Asbridge said. "This discovery is the equivalent of the Holy Grail to archaeologists and historians. It is unparalleled."
The decisive attack on the site begun on August 24th 1179. The Muslim forces, being commanded by Saladin himself, had to force their way up, by digging steps with their axes. The Templars locked themselves inside the castle and set fire to the outer gates. finally the Muslim sappers succeeded in breaking through the walls. The defenders asked for a truth [sic], but Saladin refused to grant it. Among the defenders there were 1500 men, 800 were killed and 700 were taken captives. Beside all this Saladin took the armor of about 1000 knights. His soldiers destroyed the castle and threw the corpses of the defenders into a deep well. This last careless operation was probably the cause of a plague which started within 3 days of the conquest causing Saladin and his men to evacuate the site on their way to Damascus.