21st Century
The Future
World Travel
Books & Film
Original Fiction
Opinion & Lifestyle
Politics & Living
Film Space
Movies in depth
Kid's Books
Reviews & stories

The International Writers Magazine: Mystery and Myth

Al-Khazneh and the legend of the Grail
Piotr Wesolowski

"... who drinks the water I shall give him,' says the Lord, ‘ will have a spring inside him welling up for eternal life." Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) Paramount

When the race for the Holy Grail led the adventurous archaeologist to the very threshold of Petra’s al-Khazneh, the film’s critics wished to cry for justice from Heavens. ‘Feeding on a long forgotten heresy, ’ they argued, ‘Spielberg trivialized one of Christianity’s most important myths,’.

However, those more familiar with the history of the sacred vessel were likely aware of the ancient connection. From the Middle Ages on, scholars sough in vain to locate the miraculous chalice. Many traced it back to the British Isles and saw it engulfed in the mists of the Arthurian legend. Some though, interestingly, claim that the thread that began at Golgotha ends within the walls of the lost city of Petra and, precisely, in the interior of al-Khazneh - a monumental temple hewed entirely in a glaringly pink rock.

"Let them bring me to your Holy Mountain where you dwell, across the desert, through the mountain, to the Canyon of the Crescent Moon, to the temple where the cup that holds the blood of Jesus Christ resides forever."
Soon after the crucifixion of Jesus, an ancient legend has it, when in the company of Joseph of Arimathea, Mary Magdalene fled the Roman persecution; she deposited the sacred cup in the safety of Petra’s al-Khazneh. And yet, though nearly at the crossroads of many crusades, the legendary temple was never found. Neither was the Grail.

When in 1826 the Swiss adventurer, and archaeologist, Johann Ludwig Burckhardt, finally discovered the location of the "rose-red city half as old as time," and a dark , crescent-shaped canyon led him to the threshold of a stunningly beautiful temple, save for an odd rusted Roman coin and broken pottery, its interior was empty.

Mentioned in various chronicles as early as the first century BC and featured on the maps of the Roman Empire, yet lost for centuries, Petra was found, but the myth linking it to the Grail fell short of materializing and soon slipped into a long oblivion.What is more, recently, another giant of popular culture, Dan Brown placed the Grail, or Santgraal, in the crypt of the Scottish Rosselyn Chapel - though no longer a chalice, the cup used by Christ during the Last Super, and/or the same cup where Mary Magdalene collected His blood - but His own child, a daughter. No matter how implausible, the story of Santgraal alludes again to a legendary journey: Joseph of Arimathea allegedly travelled to Britain where his missionary work appears reported in the oldest chronicles. Thus the story of the Grail moves away from the desserts of Jordan, Petra and al-Khazneh to re-emerge in the village of Roslin in the Edinburgh outskirts.

Importantly, the search for the sacred relic continues; "The quest for the Grail is not archaeology" as Henry Jones states, "It's a race against evil." and its true location may lie elsewhere - not in the wadies between the Dead and the Red Sea, nor in the Scottish Highlands, but everywhere - "Lift the rock and you shall find me."

© Piotr Wesolowski January 2009

More Places


© Hackwriters 1999-2009 all rights reserved - all comments are the writers' own responsibility - no liability accepted by or affiliates.