An Extra Player on the Playing Field of History

by John Saul (Author)
©2021 Monographs 274 Pages


Archives brought from Egypt to southern France in the early 19th century fell into the hands of a secret group whose own archives were confiscated by Occupation authorities during World War II. In 1942 some of these confiscated documents were appropriated by a young Frenchman who struggled over the following decades to decipher the importance of what he had stolen. By 1980 his rambling texts had become a prime source for the authors of Holy Blood, Holy Grail (and ultimately for The Da Vinci Code), which concluded, amid much controversy, that the early kings of France were descendants of Jesus and Mary Magdalene.
Yet these source-texts have little, if anything, to say about Jesus and certainly nothing of his purported family. They do, however, hint at the survival of a unique, original, and inherently legitimate line of sacred kings from deep pre-Biblical times when, as set out in the Sumerian King List, "Kingship was lowered from Heaven".
An Extra Player on the Playing Field of History examines the framework of Kingship and the origin of legitimate rule from their beginnings in Mesopotamia into Old and New Testament times, and from the Merovingian kings of France into later underground traditions. Their legacy is the story of an inherently Royal bloodline, of the Grail, and of its dedicated Keepers.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Acknowledgments
  • Contents
  • Introduction
  • 1 A Mountain of Secrets
  • 2 Sacred Kingship
  • 3 Necessarily Touching the Mystery of Origins
  • 4 A Pretentious Young Man without Too Much in His Head
  • 5 The Good Luck [La CHANCE] of Pierre Plantard
  • 6 Rennes-le-Château and Arcadia
  • 7 The Cutting Room of History
  • 8 Moving beyond Plantard
  • 9 Montauban and Byblos
  • 10 Alexandria and Axum
  • 11 The Benê-Yamina, Sons of the South
  • 12 Who Is the Grail?
  • Appendix : Pierre de Saint-Louis
  • Annotated Bibliography
  • Notes and References
  • Index

←10 | 11→


… something happened that sent a wave of culture from one end of the world to the other.

– W.J. Perry (1923)

Cuneiform tablets from ancient Mesopotamia tell of a time when “Kingship was lowered from Heaven”. There appears to be no doubt about the translation, yet something is lacking and the full sense escapes the modern reader. Whatever the phrase signified to the Sumerians and their successors, it was apparently too well known to require an explanation, perhaps as straightforward as “In God We Trust” or Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité.

The key development was the emergence of legitimacy. A male endowed with now unknown qualities or characteristics had become legitimately entitled to rule over others, even those he did not know. This extraordinary development appears to have detonated the explosion of events that made history begin in Sumer.

Some of the early kings were terrestrial representatives of planetary gods, undying celestial beings whose ever-circling cyclical movements incorporated the essence of rebirth and immortality. Jupiter was King in Heaven; Saturn was Ruler over Time. Other kings ruled in the image of the never-setting pole star or as representative of the Great Bear, Ursa Major.

Kings were responsible for life on Earth Below and in time their responsibilities would include assuring the timely arrival of life-giving rains. In this, as with other tasks, they would occasionally fail, which then put their legitimacy into question, and at an early date the ancient Near East fell into incessant warring with the multiplication of claims to legitimacy, many based on the notion that “might” constituted divine evidence of “right”.

←11 | 12→

The institution of sacred kingship was organized in ways on which all later churches and states would be patterned, a matter generally ignored since the French and American revolutions, but never entirely forgotten. In an address in 1610 to the Lords and Commons, King James I of England (James VI of Scotland) spoke openly of “the lineal heirs of those families whereof kings did originally come, for kings had their first Original from them who planted and spread themselves in colonies through the world”.

King James may have been confident in his own position as a lineal heir within “those families whereof kings did originally come”. Yet from deep pre-biblical times, and continuing, monarchs in Mesopotamia, in the Holy Land, and in Europe, have feared for their positions, their lives, and their legitimacy. In many instances, the fear was openly justified, arising from recognition that they could not actually grasp the Will of Heaven, let alone fulfill it. But in other cases, the fear was a secret dread that has run through history: fear of a hidden descendant of the legitimate line of the Legitimate King.

It is not uncommon for family lines to die out and most people would imagine that a descendance of a particular line from deepest history as exceeding unlikely… especially if the descendants had been hunted down century after century. But Kingship, by its original definition, had been eternal. A Sumerian proverb insists, “Friendship lasts a day, Kingship forever”. This might actually be true, even biologically, if fifth and eighth cousins of the King were held to be entirely royal, as was the case in later times among the Merovingian kings of France.

The word “Grail”, as in “Holy Grail”, is a code word that has been proposed and commonly accepted for such descendants, real or imagined, and those who look into the matter will discover that the number of personal names that arise in accounts of the Grail is unmanageably large.

Usurped descendants of the legitimate King, or those believed or suspected to be of his line, would have had to live secret existences. A problem, generation after generation, would have been the passage of information to royal children, underground princes. And then, too, who would be the one “rightful” king, even underground? A very modern term is useful here: the care of the Grail would be “outsourced”. True Believers and loyal followers from without the royal line would become “Grail Keepers”.

←12 |

The story is unfamiliar and difficult to put together because the fragments are widely scattered in both time and space. But it is not actually difficult to understand. The scattered pieces can indeed be reassembled. Thus, when Parsifal asks, “Who is the Grail?”, he is not deterred by the reply, “That is not said”, for a veteran Knight of the Grail assures young Parsifal that “if you are called to its service, the knowledge will not be hidden for long”.

History began in Sumer. Kingship was lowered from heaven and civilizations of a new type termed “the Old High Culture” came into being with laws, writing, cities, calendars, astronomical observations and recordings, monumental architecture, and irrigation. (Did secret Grail-keeper societies also begin in Sumer?) But religious tradition is very much older. When Christianity arrived in England and France and elsewhere, churches were erected in places deemed sacred from times long before the extraordinary developments in far-off Sumer, many at places marked by celestially oriented standing-stones or stone circles. Sites already long sacred in the times of the first kings, were “reinitialized” for the purposes of kingship, for another task of the king was to arrange the world of Earthbound mortals in a manner that would replicate the domain of the undying gods Above.

Civilization went into high gear in earliest Sumerian times, approximately five thousand years ago. Nothing comparable has happened since.

←14 | 15→


A Mountain of Secrets

Mark out the limits of the mountain and declare it sacred.

– Instructions given to Moses on Mount Sinai
(Exodus 19:23)*

A professor at the University of Lecce in Italy claims he has identified “a mountain sacred to our species from the very beginning”. Reviewing data from numerous expeditions, he has also come to believe that the same mountain must be the “real” Mount Sinai. The evidence suggests that Professor Anati was possibly right on both counts. Yet his identification of the site of Mount Sinai may be less important than other aspects of his research. For in the course of his work, Anati inadvertently exposed some highly curious corners of our history.

Another person who may well have been right as concerns the past was the journalist-novelist Honoré de Balzac (1799–1850), whose writings contain a reference to “two histories”, the “mendacious official History that is taught […] and the secret History that contains the true causes of events, a shameful history” (Lost Illusions, 1843).

Professor Emmanuel Anati’s “Mountain of God”

Har Karkom, which Anati calls the “Mountain of God”, is the recent Hebrew name for a little-visited but prominent mountain located in the Negev Desert of southern Israel a few miles north of the Sinai border with Egypt; Fig. 1.1. Although its description as “flat-topped” is essentially accurate, two small rounded summits mark its distinctively shaped flat surface, and “a small cave or cleft” was also found high on the mountain.

←15 | 16→

Fig. 1.1:Sites visible from Har Karkom, adapted from Anati (1986).

As a student in 1954, Anati had briefly visited the waterless area to check reports of ancient rock art, his specialty at that time and throughout his subsequent career. British Palestine Mandate maps then in use showed the mountain with the Bedouin name Jebel Ideid, meaning “the ←16 | 17→Mountain of Celebration” or “the Mountain of the Multitude”, and when Anati completed his studies and wished to return, he spent some years in relocating the renamed mountain on the new Israeli maps. Eventually he found the place and in the course of twenty or more archaeological expeditions commencing in the early 1980s, he and his teams registered more than 1300 ancient sites on and close by Har Karkom.

Dates associated with these sites range from the very beginning of the human adventure in the Lower Paleolithic (the Old Stone Age) up into the Roman, Byzantine, and Islamic periods, but human habitation and activity had not been continuous. Some periods are unrepresented: in particular, a stretch dated approximately 1950 to 1000 B.C. from which there are essentially no archaeological vestiges either at Har Karkom or elsewhere in the Sinai and Negev.1

There is general agreement that this lack of regular human activity in the region during most of the second millennium B.C. was due to an extended dry period, but it is rarely recognized or admitted that this constitutes an enormous problem for professional historians and biblical scholars. For the existence of these arid conditions requires that the forty-year wanderings of the Israelite tribes recorded in Exodus had occurred at a time when the region was uninhabitable. Divine intervention in favor of the Israelites cannot be easily evoked as an explanation even for those inclined to such thinking because, as is recorded in the biblical account, the Israelites had encountered other peoples in their wanderings – peoples with names familiar from Sunday School such as the Amalekites, Amorites, Edomites, Horites, and Midianites. What did these peoples do for water? And why did they leave no vestiges datable from around the 13th century B.C., which is the time usually assigned for the Exodus? Either Anati or the climatologists or the historians have got things wrong.

One major clustering of archaeological dates from Har Karkom occurs some 35,000 to 10,000 years ago within the Middle and Upper Paleolithic. (For comparison, the cave art at Chauvet and Lascaux dates, respectively, from approximately 30,000 and 17,000 years before the present.) At Har Karkom, this long Paleolithic interval is marked by artifacts made of flint excavated from the “Mountain of God” itself, and commencing roughly 30,000 years ago, flints from Har Karkom were retouched to produce human and animal-like faces and animal-like shapes, which to Anati and others has suggested a ritual or religious purpose.

←17 | 18→

By 2001 Anati and his teams had recorded 43 sites with still older Lower Paleolithic vestiges, and in an overview Anati would write that it had become clear “that Har Karkom had been a holy site ever since the arrival of the first Homo sapiens”. “If we can refer to this Paleolithic site as a ‘sanctuary’ ”, he wrote, “it may well be the oldest sanctuary known, in which case Har Karkom may be considered […] a sacred mountain to our species from the very beginning”.2

Outsiders may find it difficult to pass judgment on Anati’s sensible-sounding but extraordinary contention. Further, any attempt to check Anati’s reasoning brings forth a troublesome question: “Why Har Karkom?” Why not somewhere else, the next flint-bearing hill or mountain to the north, south, east, or west, for instance?

A second major clustering of dates at Har Karkom marks the much later “Bronze Age Complex” around 3200 B.C. to 1950 B.C., approximately 26,000 years after the great flourishing in the Middle Paleolithic. During the Bronze Age, there were “cult sites on the plateau and dwelling structures at the foot of the mountain”, a distribution sufficiently distinctive to cause Anati to suggest that only the elite had been allowed up the mountain, much as is recorded in the biblical account where only Moses had been allowed up Mount Sinai.

Anati’s depictions of diversely dated rock art, pillars, stone circles, tumuli, altar-like structures, round platforms, and face-like features at Har Karkom nicely support his identification of the mountain as a “persisting” religious center of some sort. It is not clear, however, what religions or sets of beliefs might be associated with the site. The “Where?” and the “When?” emerge from Anati’s presentation, but not the “Who?”, the “What?”, or the “Why?”.

To his great surprise, Anati noted early in his research that no specific biblical place-name has been identified as referring to Har Karkom. He even wondered if there had been a purposeful omission, even a cover-up. But a cover-up of what? In what period? And by whom?

In 1983 Anati reached the conclusion that Har Karkom must be the biblical Mount Sinai.3 Non-specialists, including tourists who have visited the Byzantine monastery of Saint Catherine in the southern Sinai Peninsula, may find this puzzling for they will have been told by their guides that the nearby Jebel Musa (“Mountain of Moses” in Arabic) is the biblical Mount Sinai. Yet standard reference books such as Cornfeld’s Archaeology of the Bible have Jebel Musa as only one of a dozen ←18 | 19→or more mountains that have been claimed to be the Mount Sinai. For Cornfeld,4 the identity of Mount Sinai remains “problematic” and the “lack of a clear, continuous tradition about the location or even name of the mountain” led him to propose that several traditions may have been blended imperfectly. Cornfeld may or may not be correct, but within the enormous span of time claimed by Anati to stretch back to the Lower Paleolithic, we are primarily concerned with the historically first, the original, Mount Sinai.

Taking the account of the Exodus as his authority, Anati put together what he called “a 24-point Identikit” for the biblical Mount Sinai. His “kit” included some trivial features (“the desert of Sinai at its feet” and “rock engravings”) but others (“a small cave or cleft on the peak of the mountain”; “an altar with twelve standing stones… beside it”) seem quite specific, even diagnostic. Of the twenty-four features, Anati identified twenty-three at Har Karkom, the only missing feature being “a forging oven for metal, with a water hole beside it”.

Anati’s contentions have been very poorly received; in fact, they have been ferociously criticized, because

the usual identification of Mount Sinai is with Jebel Musa (around which, however inconveniently, few vestiges are older than Byzantine);

some of Anati’s correlations of modern place-names and places with sites described in Exodus seem far-fetched; and

some of his datings employ a contested technology, “patina analysis”, (a bad-faith criticism because Anati did not use the technique to establish absolute dates but only for comparative dating, a task for which it is suited); but mostly because


ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2021 (April)
Bruxelles, Berlin, Bern, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2021. 274 pp., 7 fig. col., 58 fig. b/w.

Biographical notes

John Saul (Author)

John M. Saul has a Ph.D. in geology from M.I.T. (USA). In Kenya in the 1970s, he discovered what is now known as the John Saul Ruby Mine. He sees geology as an historical science and his research interests include subjects usually classified as historical. Dr Saul’s writings, professional and popular, are focused on questions of origins. These include the origin of gemstones and why they are rare, the origin of large circular patterns dimly visible on the Earth’s surface, and the concurrent origins of complex animals and cancer. Other subjects include the origin of religion as deciphered from the overlapping beliefs of the Bushman of southern Africa and the Hadza hunter-gatherers of Tanzania. He treats the origin of advanced civilizations – those with kings, cities, writing, and astronomical observations and recordings – as great collaborative attempts to organize the affairs of Earthbound mortals in accordance with the eternal heavens, "As Above, So Below". He also has an interest in ‘mysteries’ and has followed the enigmatic affair of Rennes-le-Château in France. Now in his eighties, Dr Saul lives in Paris and continues to pursue and publish his research.


Title: An Extra Player on the Playing Field of History
book preview page numper 1
book preview page numper 2
book preview page numper 3
book preview page numper 4
book preview page numper 5
book preview page numper 6
book preview page numper 7
book preview page numper 8
book preview page numper 9
book preview page numper 10
book preview page numper 11
book preview page numper 12
book preview page numper 13
book preview page numper 14
book preview page numper 15
book preview page numper 16
book preview page numper 17
book preview page numper 18
book preview page numper 19
book preview page numper 20
book preview page numper 21
book preview page numper 22
book preview page numper 23
book preview page numper 24
book preview page numper 25
book preview page numper 26
book preview page numper 27
book preview page numper 28
book preview page numper 29
book preview page numper 30
book preview page numper 31
book preview page numper 32
book preview page numper 33
book preview page numper 34
book preview page numper 35
book preview page numper 36
book preview page numper 37
book preview page numper 38
book preview page numper 39
book preview page numper 40
276 pages