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Book Review - The Sign and the Seal

by Graham Hancock

T his is a book for all friends of high adventure. In an amazing narrative, Hancock manages to present a case for Templars surviving ther persecution by King Philip and having carried the Ark of the Covenant to safety in Ethiopian backwoods. It is evident from the first ten pages that this book will make compulsive reading, so do not pick it up unless you are prepared to finish it in a reasonable time frame.

H ancock's main problem is the same as the Lincoln-Baigent-Leigh trio had: street credibility. There are far to many coincidences, far too many undocumented twists of history. Even the first premise is largely a matter of faith: that there ever was an Ark of the Covenant, it survived through millennia, and that it is worth carrying up and down Middle East.

I am biased in my judgment of such material. I admit it freely. There is just so much untrue stuff assigned to the Templars that I always set "Sceptism-mode: ON" when I read such material. My shields went up in a nanosecond when I opened this book, but I read it still. Hancock does write an entertaining book in this one, it's just the basic premise that stretches the imagination just a bit too far.

T he basic idea appears to be that the Templars got hold of the Ark of the Covenant (Indiana Jones, here we come...), and after many interesting turns of the tale had it deposited in the Ethiopian city of Aqsa. To back this claim up, Hancock has written an extensive history of the Ark all the way up to its disappearance. Then he goes on to explain the Coptic Church of Ethiopia with its religious processions involving the Ark, put on display on major religious festivals. There are apparently hundreds of replicas of the original floating about, but the original is jealousy guarded and kept in one less-than-impressive building in the highlands of Ethiopia.

T he most that the Templars are involved in all this is that there are documents Hancock claims prove that Templars traveled far more extensively than usually is agreed. They apparently dug deep into Africa and the Orient, leaving catered trails of evidence of this. True, there are churches in Ethiopia, carved out of the rock in the ground in the shape of the cross patté, and there are fleeting mentions of knight in papers and documents in various interesting places, but proof? I don't think so. Yet, if you are into secret religious artefacts, and conspiracies in general, and Templars doing numerous until now unheard of deeds, this is a book for you. It will not make you sleep, so it's not a bedside book, but it should be of interest to many of the visitors of this site.

Armory Bailey Barracks Chapel Dungeon Library Pub

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