Templar Treasure Map
Have you ever asked yourself “I wonder where King Solomon’s Treasure is hidden”?  Probably not since last week’s Powerball ticket came up empty.  A holiday in Provence, however, might inspire sober consideration of the question if it turns into a treasure hunt.  Many a back road in this region of France reveal an assortment of new adventures.  What one stumbles across may be steeped in so much history and intrigue to cause a stop in wonder as if gazing at some marvelous painting in the Louvre Museum.  Sometimes a mystery can be discovered in the very village that one is visiting.

Take the village of Rochemaure Castle for example.  You could spend a week or two at the Lys de Rochemaure and thoroughly enjoy the beauty and history of the home, charming medieval streets, the boulangerie and pizzeria before venturing out into the Rhone River valley that beckons down the hill without even thinking to “about-face” and head up the castle road to see the Chapel of St. Laurent.   This landmark would probably not make the list of things to do on the Provence vacation, but there is something there that is quite rare and worth the climb.  Treasure seekers say that this chapel holds a mysterious clue to the treasure of the Knights Templar.  Set in the exterior chapel facade is a carved clay tablet with strange Roman engraving.  It is called a “Magic Square” which some claim dates back to the era of the Visigoths.


This particular square is known as the Magic Square of Rochemaure Castle, or a “Sator -Rotas” magic square.  The Magic Square is a palindrome, or a word puzzle that is composed of five words of five letters each laid out in a five by five square matrix.  The words inscribed are “SATOR – AREPO – TENET – OPERA – ROTAS”.   They can be read forward, backwards, up and down to repeat itself in each direction that it is read.  The magic square was thought to have a medicinal power for helping with childbirth, curing fevers and insanity.   Roman doorposts and kitchen utensils bore the Sator – Rotas square to ward off evil spirits.  Roman army divisions may have carried the square on their standard when marching into battle. 

The Rochemaure Sator -Rotas Square was once thought to have been used by the Knights Templar to conceal the location of the Treasure of Solomon.  Sator – Rotas squares have been discovered in the ruins of Pompeii, so it is fair to assume that this type of magic square was in use prior to the period of the

Sator Rotas Square

Templars.  It has been a popular view that Sator – Rotas squares originated in ancient Persia.  However, excavations are now showing that squares found in the Middle East and other parts are Europe may not be that ancient.  A researcher at St. Michael’s College has now taken the position that the Sator – Rotas square probably originated with early Latin- speaking Jews in Italy about the time of Christ.  This is not insignificant because the Sator – Rotas Square was valued as a prophetic symbol by early Christians such as the order of the Templars.

The significance of the Sator – Rotas Square for Christians lies in the fact that the five words of the square can actually be reassembled to create a palindrome in the shape of the Greek cross containing the words PATER NOSTER, which means “Our Father”.  This cross palindrome excludes the letters “A” and “O”, but left in position they mysteriously flank the vertical and horizontal axis of the cross in perfect symmetry representing the symbols for “alpha and omega” or “beginning and end” which refers to Christ.

Trivia: The Magic Square of Rochemaure was classified as a historic monument in 1903.   The square is supposed to be a key to a an encoded reading system known only to insiders of the Templars Venaissin.  According to local history, Pope Clement V was residing in Avignon, just south of Rochemaure, and played a role in protecting the Templars Venaissin during the trials and extermination of the Templar order in France.  Clement V apparently received payment of their protection from the treasure, eventually acquiring all assets of this Templars Venaissin.*  
So if you find yourself sitting at a cafe with nothing to do while your “better half” is out shopping in Provence, you can always pull out a pen and paper to start solving the magic square puzzle.  The Rochemaure Magic Square happens to be a mathematical magic square.  To get started assign a number to each letter of the alphabet starting with number 1 for the letter A and working up from there.  Then replace the magic square letters with the corresponding numerical value.  Then add the rows and columns.  The row/column total should be a two digit number.  Then add those two digits together and you’ll get another two digit number.  Finally adding those two digits together should make the final value for each row and column the perfect number 1. 

How does that sound for a great time during your vacation to Provence?  Well if you add a pastis de l’eau, a bowl of pistachios and a sunset over the Rhone River to the equation, it just might start to end up being a great idea.

Rhone River Sunset

If you hook up with a metal detector from the rental store down on the river road you might come back from Provence  smarter and wealthier.  Here’s a final clue:  The Provence towns of Sauveterre, Orange, Avignon, Pont-Laval, Eyguiers, Thor, Nyons and finally Rochemaure may be the locations of the hiding places for Templar treasure.  Their first letters S-O-A-P-E-T-N-R are an anagram of the eight unique letters of the the magic square words SATOR – AREPO – TENET- OPERA – ROTAS, when taken in order they are SATOREPN.*

Ciao for now!


*Source: Luc at THunting.com