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The Temple of the Sun, also known as the Grail Temple,[3] was the location that housed the Holy Grail and the Grail Knight who protected it, built into the wall of the Canyon of the Crescent Moon in Hatay in the year 1000 around a pre-existing Greco-Roman facade by a secret society of Aramaic-speaking Semites.[2]


"Three devices of such lethal cunning."
Henry Jones, Sr.[src]

A Great Seal lay at the entrance to the temple in which a series of challenges were designed to prevent most seekers of the Grail from finding the room in which it was stored. The three challenges included:


The Breath of God.

  • The Breath of God - "Only the penitent man will pass." The object of the first challenge was to kneel before the breath of God. At the start, a person would feel the wind (the Breath) blow through the chamber's thick cobwebs. He would then have to kneel quickly in order to avoid being decapitated by two huge circular saws.[1]

The Word of God.

  • The Word of God - "Only in the footsteps of God will he proceed." The second challenge had a series of lettered tiles on the floor. The object was to figure out and step on the correct spelling to the Word. The answer was Jehovah, but was to be spelled in Latin as "Iehova". Incorrect tiles would break through, causing the seeker to plunge into a deep chasm below the floor.[1]
Indy on the invisible bridge

The Path of God.

  • The Path of God - "Only in the leap from the lion's head will he prove his worth." In the last of the challenges, the person must take a "leap of faith" from a sculpture of a lion's head across a huge canyon, when in reality there is a hidden path that is painted to look like the depth of the canyon. The object was for the person to believe they can cross whether or not they can see the path.[1]

In Henry Jones' Grail diary, he abbreviated the three challenges in Latin as "The Pendulum," "The Cobbles," and "The Invisible Bridge."[4]

Although credited as having only three challenges to get to the Grail, the final one was, according to the Grail Knight, to "choose wisely" among a set of many cups, plates, and bowls to drink spring water out of. Finding the true Grail brought eternal life, which lasted until crossing the Great Seal, the price for immortality. The one who found the Grail was expected to use their eternal life to guard and protect the Grail. Choosing a false Grail and drinking from it would cause instant death.[1]


The temple floor cracks.

During the Last Crusade of 1938, Indiana Jones went through the challenges by using his father's Grail diary in order to save his father's life after Walter Donovan shot him. Donovan, along with Dr. Elsa Schneider followed Indy into the Grail room. Donovan died after drinking from a False Grail. Indy acquired the true Grail and used the spring waters to heal his father's wounds. Elsa attempted to take it beyond the Great Seal which caused the temple to collapse.[1]

Behind the scenes[]

The exterior of the Temple of the Sun was filmed at Al-Khazneh, also known as "The Treasury", a building carved out of a sandstone rock face in the ancient city of Petra, Jordan. The main cast completed their scenes after 63 days of filming.[5] At Al Khazneh, unlike the edifice seen in the film, there is nothing inside the entrance other than a small room. The temple was previously used in Sam Wanamaker's film Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger.

The Temple of the Sun makes a brief cameo reappearance in Indiana Jones and the Staff of Kings as Indiana Jones flies out of the Sudan.[6]



Notes and references[]