While this novel is a work of fiction, the events upon which it is based are historical and archaeological facts.
During ancient times, a sacred duty of the Israelites, according to the Torah, was to pay tribute and bring sacrificial animals and gifts to the Temple during the three pilgrimage festivals.
Following the destruction of the First Temple of Jerusalem by the Babylonians in 586 BC, Cyrus the Great, King of Persia, had allowed for the Temple to be rebuilt in 535 BC. During the next 500 years up until the rebuilding of the Second Temple by Herod the Great, vast amounts of precious metals and gems continued to accumulate in the Temple’s vaults from those tributes. Some accounts estimate there to have been about 300 tons of gold, silver and precious stones.
Historical accounts claim that Titus son of Vespasian Caesar had looted some of the Temple’s treasure after he destroyed the city of Jerusalem and the Second Temple in 70 AD. In modern-day Rome, visitors can still see etched into the stone of Titus’ arch near the coliseum part of that treasure, such as the seven branch candelabrum, or Menorah.
New light was shed on the treasure following the 1952 discovery of the Copper Scrolls in cave Q3 at the Essene settlement of Qumran on the northern shores of the Dead Sea. The scrolls described the value of the treasure and the 64 different burial sites throughout Judea and Samaria, today’s West Bank territories controlled by Israel. To date, no archaeological proof has been found that can positively identify who may have hidden the vast treasure.
In June 2007 the Copper Scrolls were taken from their permanent residence at the Amman Archeology Museum on a tour of the US and were displayed for about 6 months at the San Diego Natural History Museum.
In 2006 Professor Oren Gutfeld, from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, has identified the Herodian Palace of Hyrcania located ten miles southeast of Jerusalem, also known as Khirbet Mird, to be the place mentioned on the first line of the Copper Scrolls as “the Ruin which is in the Valley of Achor…” He subsequently began to excavate a tunnel leading into the hill on which the fortress had been built.
The other 64 locations described in the Copper Scrolls have yet to be identified.
The Sicarii, (You can find intersting facts here -http://www.fectio.org.uk/sites/jerusalem1990.htm )a splinter group from the religious faction, the Pharisees, appeared around 6 AD. Followers of Judas the Galilean, the Sicarii were a sect of extreme right-wing Jews who believed that no other than the Lord God should have the power to rule the Jews. Considered the first terror group, the Sicarii men were expert assassins. Their favored method of killing was slitting their target’s throat. Although they killed in broad daylight and in public, for all to see, afterward they always managed to disappear like ghosts, never to be caught. The Sicarii weapon was a unique dagger known as the Sica, from which the name of the sect had derived.
The Sicarii’s rebellion against the Romans had began in 6 AD and ended 67 years later when Elazar Ben Yair led the Sicarii in a mass suicide pact on the fortress mountain of Masada. According to historical accounts written by Yosef Ben Mattityahu (Joseph son of Matthias), also known as Titus Flavius Josephus, two women and five children were spared from the mass suicide. It is this fact that I am using to fictionalize the Sicarii’s continuous existence throughout history and today.
The Knights Templar Order written about in this novel (historical facts about the Templar Knights - http://www.templarhistory.com/ ) is also an order that in fact existed. However, according to historical accounts they were completely disbanded following the execution of their last Grand Master Jacques De Molay in 1314. The order’s role in this book beyond this year is mostly a figment of my imagination.
In August 2005, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon decided to return Gaza to the Palestinians. There were rumors at the time of right-wing Jewish settlers who may have planned to violently oppose the removal of Jewish settlements from the Gaza Strip. However, except for minor disruptions, the “disengagement” as it was called, went rather smoothly. The assassination plot against the Israeli PM is also imaginary. Mr. Yossi Melman, intelligence correspondent for Israeli newspaper Haaretz, and author of seven books on Israeli spymasters and terrorism including his latest, the Nuclear Sphinx of Iran, gave me his approval to use his name in this story.