Legend Quest (2011) s01e01 Episode Script

Ark Of The Covenant & Mayan Talking Cross

Cowie: Tonight on "Legend Quest" I travel to Africa to find the legendary Ark of the Covenant And I take on the jungles of Central America Ah, you bastard! In search of the mysterious Mayan Talking Cross.
There's a human skull.
A skull? We're walking into the underworld.
What is that? These are children's handprints.
We're going to the beginning of the pilgrimage route to the holy land.
We're going to France.
This might be the final resting place of the Ark of the Covenant.
My name is Ashley cowie.
I'm an author and archeological explorer [ Hinges creaking ] Specializing in ancient symbols and mysterious legends.
I've spent years studying some of the world's most fascinating relics.
Now I'm on the hunt to find out where they are.
Some would hope that these secrets remain hidden, but I'll leave no stone unturned to uncover the truth in my Legend Quest.
the Ark of the Covenant-- You may know it from the movie "Raiders Of The Lost Ark.
" Indiana Jones battled Nazis in search of a golden chest that would make them invincible.
But the ark is not a fantasy.
It's an actual biblical relic dating back thousands of years, and just like in the movie, the ark is said to have awesome mystical powers.
The story begins on mount sinai, where God gave Moses the ten commandments on two stone tablets.
God told Moses build the ark, an elaborate chest 45 inches long and 27 inches wide, to hold the tablets and other holy objects, like the rod of Aaron and offerings of manna.
The Israelites carried it ahead of them in battle, using its supernatural power to destroy all their enemies.
Ultimately, the ark was brought to Jerusalem.
King Solomon built his first temple to hold it at the center of the temple in a space called the holy of holies.
Only high priests were allowed to enter the room.
A single impure thought, and you'd be struck dead by lightning, just like in the movie.
In 556 BC, the temple was destroyed by the babylonians.
The ark vanished, launching the greatest historical mystery of all time.
Over the centuries, archeologists and armies, including the Nazis, have searched for the ark and its powers, but I believe I know where to go to find it.
There's evidence the ark was saved from Solomon's temple, taken down the nile, and hidden in Ethiopia.
My research points to one place-- The town of Lalibela.
Only Lalibela is recorded as having movements connected to the ark in the 12th century right at the time of the crusades, when artifacts were being shipped all over the world from the holy land.
A historian named Abu Salih, who lived in Africa during the crusades, recorded that fair-haired, light-skinned men claiming to be descendants of Solomon were seen carting the ark through Lalibela.
So, we're gonna look for clues or symbols which might take us directly to the ark.
We won't go unnoticed here.
Strangers attract attention, especially fair-haired, light-skinned strangers.
Kinga's arranged to meet a local named Hili.
This is Hili.
Pleased to meet you.
He says he'll lead us to a man who has answers.
So, we'll be going to the church to meet Mr.
All right, guys.
We're moving out.
Hili's taking us into an area that sets Lalibela apart from anywhere else in the world.
This is incredible, Hili.
This architectural marvel was built in the 12th century, around the time Abu Salih says those fair-haired, light-skinned strangers passed through.
All based on belief in the ark of the covenant? And it took how many years? 23 years for this? The tunnel opens onto a group of churches.
It's hard to imagine that this was once a solid stone mountainside.
Every column, every window, every tiny detail was hollowed out from solid bedrock by hand.
Hili leads me to the high priest.
He oversees all the churches here.
Centuries of mysteries and secrets have been entrusted with him.
My name is Ashley.
It's an honor to meet you.
I'm here looking for the ark of the covenant.
Has the true ark ever been in Lalibela? [ Speaking native language ] So, the Ark of the Covenant-- It has been here and it has touched here, but it has moved onwards? He seems quite sure that the ark was here, but where did it go? All I need is that one clue.
Do you know anything about white people coming here at the time of king Lalibela? From the holy land? The priest just confirmed what historian Abu Salih believed.
White men arrived here during the crusades.
They could only have come from Europe.
Most historians insist the first Europeans did not see Lalibela for another 400 years.
I must say thank you for the time, and it's been an honor to meet you.
Most scholars insist that the Ethiopians built this place on their own.
But I believe they had help from the Europeans.
Who were they? Potential clues are everywhere.
Center pillar.
This is really important.
From there, everything grows outwards-- All the arches and all the symbols.
Look here.
You can see the six-pointed seal of Solomon.
And right in the center there, you see a Maltese cross.
The star of David represents the old testament.
The Maltese cross represents the new testament.
Hey, Kinga.
Look at the top of this pillar.
There it is, hiding in plain sight-- The double-headed eagle, the symbol that could be pointing to the ark.
The eagle often represents the romans.
But I believe here That eagle represents the ark on earth.
An eagle with two heads? Correct.
On top of the ark of the covenant, there are two angels with wings.
And it was the two-winged entities that were said to have flown the ark of God to earth.
But it means a lot more.
I've seen it before.
I'm working a theory here.
I need to just keep looking, but my cogs are turning.
That eagle's whispering something to me.
Let's keep looking.
Look at this church itself.
Look at the right angles.
They're absolutely perfect.
To think that they did this by hand Or by the help of angels, as they say.
Helped by angels? Fair-haired, light-skinned angels with an expertise in architecture.
Come with me.
We have to get up.
Come here.
Follow me.
Everything's just added up.
I know who those so-called angels were, and now I think I have a good idea of where they may have taken the ark.
Our search for the ark of the covenant has led us to Lalibela, Ethiopia.
I've learned the ark might have been here but was taken away.
And now I realize who took it and where they may have taken it.
Philipps: What have we got? That church there is literally a Knights Templar symbol.
The Knights Templar-- This Christian military order formed after the first crusade to protect Christian pilgrimages to Jerusalem and sacred artifacts.
The original Knights Templar were men of science and architecture.
They always left their mark on their building projects, and what mark is more clear than this-- An entire structure in the shape of their symbol? So, what if the fair-haired, light-skinned gentlemen were actually Knights Templar and they took the ark? Hili told us angels helped build the churches.
What if it's the Templars giving them the knowledge of how to build the churches? My theory-- During the crusades, the Templars followed the trail of the ark from Jerusalem to Lalibela to help build the churches.
The people of Lalibela entrusted the ark to the Templars because they regarded the Templars as angels.
But where would the Templars take the ark? That's where another Lalibela symbol comes in.
Now, remember back in that church, we saw the double-headed eagle? Is the double-headed eagle a knight templar symbol, too? Yes, it is.
The double-headed eagle is very definitive of one type of Knights Templar.
I know where that Knights Templar order is based.
The double-headed eagle and this cross are their symbols.
I think that they took that ark and they've gone to one place.
From Lalibela, it's on to Tuscany, Italy, nearly 3,000 miles away.
If I've read the signs correctly, this is where the Knights Templar would have hidden the ark.
Cowie: If the Knights Templar took the ark from Lalibela back to their safe lands up here in northern Europe, they would have had to have transported it up the via francigena.
Now, that's the main templar route between the holy land and Europe.
That's where the clues come in.
We're going to the Castello della Magione near Sienna.
It's a small templar stronghold, and the family that owned that castle used the double-headed eagle as their logo and the very same cross that we saw in the rock-cut church.
It's the perfect place to have taken the ark for safekeeping.
This is the castello, guys.
We're here.
It was built by the knight Templars in the 12th century.
It's just so unassuming.
Let's go for a look around inside, guys.
Inside the castello, the connections to Lalibela seem to jump out.
We've seen this symbol, just like the rock-cut church we saw in Lalibela.
Both with the two equal beams of the Maltese cross.
And there it is again-- The double-headed eagle, just like the one we saw in Lalibela, just like the two angels on top of the Ark of the Covenant.
This is incredible-- All the hallmarks of the Knights Templar.
Templars built like nobody else.
Oh, look at this.
This is very old.
There's a chamber or a crypt underneath here sealed with a templar cross identical to what we saw in Lalibela.
The size of this slab fits the dimensions of the ark given in the Bible.
But it doesn't look strong enough to permanently protect the ark.
Maybe it was here and was moved.
I need to go and ask the grand master about this.
This templar order usually doesn't allow interviews with its grand master, but he'll speak with me.
I'm a Knights Templar myself, though I don't know the secrets held by this order-- Secrets of the ark.
We sit down with a translator.
I'm hoping to get at least one clue from my fellow knight.
When I explored outside in the church, everything here tells me that this was a very special place for very special templars.
Have any relics or historical artifacts been kept here? [ Speaking Italian ] Let me ask about the church downstairs.
In the center of the church, there is a rectangle with a templar cross.
What is below the church? Then he changes the subject to chartres cathedral, built by the templars in France.
That is very, very interesting.
[ Speaking Italian ] Yeah.
The grand master was pretty cryptic, but he did tell me the ark isn't here.
I think it was here at some point.
So, where did it go? What am I missing? Double-headed eagle again.
Mary, baby Jesus.
The virgin Mary.
Because she carried Jesus in her womb, she's called the ark of the new covenant.
Now the grand master's mention of chartres cathedral makes absolute sense to me.
We're going to the beginning of the pilgrimage route to the holy land.
We're going to France.
We've traveled from Ethiopia to Tuscany, Italy, on a trail of the ark of the covenant.
Symbols in plain sight and cryptic hints from a Knights Templar grand master just might point the way to the final resting place of the ark.
We're going to France.
At the same time the Knights Templar took the ark from Lalibela to their stronghold in Tuscany, the order was building chartres cathedral in France.
Look at chartres-- Absolutely ripping the skyline to pieces.
This cathedral was built to honor the Virgin Mary, to hold sacred treasures brought back from the crusades, perhaps to hide the most powerful treasure of them all.
We know what we're looking for-- Anything relating to the ark whatsoever.
Hey, guys, come here.
Look at this right here-- This small box.
Look what's inside it.
Item one-- Aaron's rod, two, the pot of manna, and the tablets that were given to Moses-- The ten commandments.
That there is the Ark of the Covenant.
If it was any other set of objects, it could be just any old chest or a box, but that there right at the entrance to the cathedral.
We need to get inside.
We need to follow the path of the ark, and it's pointing right here towards the door and possibly where the ark is today.
Let's move on.
Ashley, come see this.
This is the main reason for pilgrimage to this cathedral.
The very shroud that the virgin Mary wore when she was giving birth to Christ.
Look there, right on either side of the veil-- Two winged cherubim pointing inwards exactly like the lid on the Ark of the Covenant.
Just like the ark and the eagle, Mary, the ark of the new covenant.
Could this be a sign the lost ark is nearby? You know, we've been looking up above, but look what's right under our feet here.
Look at that.
It's the chartres labyrinth.
Some say you begin at the opening and work yourself around the labyrinth, and you end up right there in the center, which is symbolic of enlightenment itself.
And it's also symbolic of the pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
But look at the center of the center.
Do you see the outline of a rectangle in there? It's unusual to see such a perfect piece of stonework the whole way around it, and then in the middle, you got this crude, sort of scrappy-looking box.
It's almost as if this has been hollowed out, and then it's been jammed back, and then, over time, people have possibly tried to get in there, and it's been repaired.
But there's nobody getting in now.
It's too small to be a coffin.
It almost matches the design of the ark perfectly.
Look at the size of it.
A crypt matching the one in the castello at the center of the labyrinth, the most holy place in this entire cathedral.
We started in Lalibela on the track of the ark.
We know that the rock-cut churches' symbology there pointed towards the knight templar.
We journeyed through Italy, and everything pointed us towards France, here to the first high gothic cathedral in the nation.
We know that Saint Bernard of Clairvaux and the Knights Templar designed chartres as an embodiment of the holy Jerusalem, built just after the templars returned from the holy land.
What better to have at the center of his temple than the ark? This might be the final resting place of the ark of the covenant.
One thing I know about templar hiding places-- There's always more than one way in.
There's got to be a passageway under the labyrinth.
Kinga talks a caretaker into letting us into the basement.
He has no idea what might be hidden under there.
He lets us go inAlone.
I lead Kinga away from the lights the main corridor.
Kinga, look.
It opens up.
We can go further under the cathedral right here.
Look at the stairs.
Yeah, this is gonna get me right underneath the floor of the cathedral, maybe even right below the labyrinth.
Stay here.
I'm gonna be back in a moment.
Oh, yeah.
This goes on and on.
Look at this.
I'm heading towards the labyrinth.
I'm right beneath the floor of the church.
I can touch it.
It's right above my head.
But the tunnel tapers off, and there's like a wall here.
But it's quite possible there's something further on along that tunnel.
There might be a vault right there underneath the center of the labyrinth.
I'm right beneath the floor, but I cannot get farther.
Beyond that wood, thick, solid rock.
The space is the right size for the Ark of the Covenant.
We know because the dimensions of the ark are spelled out in the Bible.
Whatever's underneath the labyrinth is entombed for the ages.
But why would the Knights Templar hide the ark? Why not display it? Because they believed in its powers, and over the years, so did many others, including leaders like Hitler, who wanted to use the ark for their own evil purposes.
I believe the Knights Templar knew it was best to bury the ark beneath this sacred site.
When I was stopped by that wall of wood, I may have come as close as anyone to the Ark of the Covenant.
This might be the final resting place of the Ark of the Covenant.
On my next quest, I head to the jungles of Central America on a mission to find the cursed Mayan Talking Cross.
What is that? These are children's handprints.
For decades, mankind has been captivated by the great Mayan mysteries, like ancient astronauts and doomsday prophecies.
But one of the most incredible Mayan legends, the Talking Cross, has become more than just a myth.
Armies have searched for it, cities have claimed it, and thousands have died protecting it.
The legend begins over five centuries ago with the Mayans discovering a stone cross in a Cenote, which are dangerous underground caverns filled with water.
The Mayans claimed the cross could speak to them and even grant them blessings.
The Mayans eventually took the Talking Cross to the village of Xocen, where it was worshiped by the people.
In return, they received the power to battle their enemies and protect the ancient Mayan culture from invaders.
But years later, it's said the Mayans turned away from their gods.
So the cross began making extreme demands, even killing villagers who disobeyed.
Finally, the villagers decided they had enough.
So 30 Mayan priests and 9 children, whose holiness and purity were thought to calm the gods' anger, took the cross to a secret cave just outside the village of Xocen.
There they planned to perform a sacred ritual to ask the gods for forgiveness and guidance as to where they should take the cross to escape its angry wrath.
But once they left the village of Xocen, the priests, children, and cross vanished forever.
If the mission at the cave was a success, we need to find a clue to where they might have taken it next, and that's why we're on our way to the Yucatán.
So, here we are, looking for something that's gonna help us find our way.
Our journey starts where the legend says the Talking Cross was last seen, the village of Xocen.
Our Spanish-speaking cameraman, Jose, will help us translate along the way.
We're looking for a Mayan elder who might know the ancient cave that the priests and the children traveled to with the Talking Cross.
This is an amazing little town-- Hasn't changed in hundreds of years.
Kinga and Jose are trying to find the local elder, see if he can help us with the cross.
[ Speaking Spanish ] He said he was born here? Yes, they're all born here.
All born here? It doesn't take long before Kinga strikes gold with a group of lifelong residents.
The locals pointed me towards a Mayan elder named Primitivo Chang.
He's 87 years old.
This man has information about this area that you can't find online or in books.
That's supercool.
You know, the thing about these Mayans is, history is passed down through verbal tradition, through oral tradition.
Absolutely, that's cool.
He lives in a little hut out of town.
Okay, we're gonna go up and see this guy-- He answers his door.
[ Speaking Spanish ] At first, the Mayan elder is hesitant to speak to us, saying only that the Talking Cross is cursed and that we should just leave it alone.
[ Speaking Spanish ] But Jose's hispanic ancestry momentarily softens him [ Speaking Spanish ] And he reluctantly agrees to speak with us.
Thank you.
Cowie: So, first of all, we want to say thank you for giving us your time.
[ Speaking Spanish ] When we sit down, he tells us that searching for the cross is useless.
Many have tried, but no one has succeeded.
Is there any information you can give me to help me narrow do my search? There is a location where we might find what we're looking for.
He tells us about a hidden cave deep within the jungle that's associated with the cross, but that no one goes there because it's cursed.
He agrees to arrange for us to meet with a Mayan friend who's familiar with the jungle, but he says we should proceed at our own risk.
Cowie: Okay, so, what we're doing is looking for a cave.
The legends told us that the cross was taken from a cave to another location.
But this isn't the cave where we think the cross is.
Yeah, absolutely.
What we need to do is look for clues maybe even in the orientation of the cave that's gonna show us where those priests and the children took the Talking Cross.
Okay, you know what? That's him.
Hola, Mario.
Mario Novello.
Pleased to meet you.
[ Speaking Spanish ] Saying it's a very forbidden place to a lot of people, so a lot of people try to stray away from it.
Mario agrees to take us to the entrance of the cave, but that's as far as he's gonna go.
Let's go.
Can we get all the kit and get up there? Do we need ropes? Is it deep? If a man hands you ropes, take them.
Cowie: We'll go in here.
All right, guys, we're gonna have to try and come right through here and come down the other side.
Every one of these plants bites.
Damn it, these things are hard.
What would the Mayans use as a compass out here, Ashley? This here.
This is a compass.
Do you know that trees always grow to where the sun is? So, in any given forest, the natural slant will always be to the South, to the sun right there.
So, at midday, 1 1/2 hours ago, the sun would have been there-- Trees growing directly towards the sun.
There's my compass right there.
That's nice to know.
Let's go.
It's no surprise this cave has been left undisturbed for so many years.
There's huge thorns everywhere.
Well, this reaffirms that no one's been here.
Hiking through here is extremely dangerous.
You have to watch every step to avoid being stuck by the spiky plants.
Look at this.
Careful coming in here.
This stuff's so sharp.
Ah, you bastard! Ashley! Did it puncture you all the way through? That was a bad one.
A search for the legendary Talking Cross has us traveling to a hidden cave, where 13 priests and 9 children carried the cross on a quest to rid their world of its evil wrath.
But to get there, we're going through a garden of hell.
Ah, you bastard! That's what I need for now.
You've got to be kidding me.
It's a natural antiseptic.
You punctured that all the way through.
Let's just take a piece of this with me.
All right, Mario.
Let's go.
Hey, guys, it's open and clear here.
And look.
There's more rocks.
There's like a trail here now.
There it is.
Oh, wow.
Man: This is the cueva.
Look at that.
This is the cave.
What we need to try and find is something relating to the cross.
Okay, let's go.
We're looking for a clue to where the cross was taken.
Look how huge this cavern is.
I know.
It's endless.
We're quite literally walking into the underworld-- So the Mayans would say.
Look at the bats, right there at the entrance.
What is What is that? Look at that spider.
Look how quickly that guy moves.
[ Shudders ] What's there? Well, it looks like it ends, and What is that? What's right there? In water.
It ends in water.
Okay, so we're now at the base of this cave.
This is as low as we can go.
To the Maya, this is exactly where mankind came from.
Look at this.
Ashley, that's incredible.
These are children's handprints.
These are tiny.
These are children's hands.
They used a red ocher that they ground down-- Used to put natural plants in there, so it would stick, and planted it up there.
There's 9 children, 13 priests connected to the cross.
I suggest we count the children's handprints.
We've got 1, 2, 3 45 6 78.
There's 8.
9, right here.
Nine children's handprints in red.
This could be evidence that they were here Each one leaving a handprint.
But what if the handprints represented more than just the children's presence? Ancient cultures often used the location of symbols to secretly communicate information.
First, they're clustered on the Western wall-- A clue to the direction they may have traveled.
And second, if we speculate that, similar to early mapping techniques, a single handprint represents one day of travel, is it possible that the nine handprints symbolize nine days of travel in a westerly direction? It's a long shot, but if we map out a nine-day hike headed west, that puts us directly in the heart of the spiritual capital of the Mayans, Yaxuna.
It makes total sense that that's where they would have taken the cross next for advice from the high priests, so that's where we're heading now.
There's only one ancient settlement around here, and it's not on the main road.
We're gonna go off-road for a little while.
This is all flat land, agricultural land.
That tells us this belongs to the ancient Mayans.
I think we're close.
Here we are.
Here we are.
Yaxuna, the spiritual capital of the Mayans.
Here, the priests and the children would have placed the cross on an important altar and asked for guidance from a powerful cleric.
Oh, wow, look at this, guys.
So, I'm looking for a specific altar with a connection to the cross to see if there's any clues about its final resting place.
We're racing against the sun here.
We got to be quick.
Kinga, get up to the top of that pyramid and look for anything symmetrical, anything parallel.
Let's remember, guys-- Nature does not make straight lines.
Here we go.
I think we've found our altar.
Square plinth A square in the center Okay.
And one circular rock.
This could be the altar, but the rock is out of place.
It's not part of the usual design, and that's exactly the point.
If the cross was taken here to this location, it would have been set right here on the altar in the center of the sacred city.
The stone that was placed on the altar is the clue to where it may have been taken and what links this altar to the cross.
A circular stone symbolizes water, as well as the Cenote, the original place the Talking Cross came from.
In the days of idols, when a powerful spiritual object was placed on an altar for a burial ceremony, some factions would replace it with a symbolic object that forever linked it with its final destination.
The cross has been returned to the Cenote.
It's been given back to the underworld.
So this circle represents a Cenote.
Circle represents a Cenote.
They're formed as natural domes under the water, and that's exactly what that's telling me.
And I have an idea how to find it.
This quest has been heading west since the beginning.
We should continue in that direction to find the sacred Cenote, the symbolic underworld.
There are hundreds of Cenotes out here.
But if I draw a straight line west of the exact position of this altar, there's only one it could be-- This one here.
It's the only sacred Cenote directly on the same axis.
We've got to check out that Cenote.
Cenotes are essentially a collapsed cave with water in it.
They're also some of the most dangerous places on earth, full of strong currents and collapsing rocks.
We don't know how deep they are, so you're gonna have to dive.
You're just gonna have to take this chance, 'cause you need to get in there.
Either I'm gonna find the Talking Cross Or end up in a watery grave.
We're searching for the legendary Talking Cross, an ancient Mayan artifact said to have supernatural powers.
And I believe we're closer to finding it than anyone else has ever come.
We're looking for a sacred Cenote that I've tracked using several clues I found at the pyramids of Yaxuna.
The crew is waiting with my scuba gear.
We're heading to the Cenote to go diving in search of the cross.
Let's go, guys.
Come on.
We're following a perfect west alignment here.
Look at this.
This rule is perfect east/west.
It's this way.
Let's go.
All right, guys, we're moving.
The Talking Cross would be an amazing find.
It's the most spiritual legend in the Mayan culture.
Hey, guys, here we go.
Here's our sinkhole.
We've got it.
This is it.
The Cenote that the altar led us to.
Philipps: Can't even see the bottom.
I can't see anything, apart from the reflection of the water.
Okay, guys, we need to get some ropes.
We need to get the tanks.
We're going diving.
It's absolutely enormous.
And it's perfectly domed.
It's almost like it's been man-made down here.
You know, these Cenotes were the sacred center of the Mayan world.
If it's anywhere, it's gonna be here.
I've just descended 40 meters.
[ Bats squeaking ] Next place I have to go is into this abyss in search of the Talking Cross.
Diving in a Cenote is one of the most dangerous activities in the world.
Removing just one rock can create a dangerous whirlpool effect, sucking you deep underwater.
We must be careful not to disturb anything we find.
The Mayans were expert free divers, capable of traveling great distances underwater.
If they wanted to hide the Talking Cross forever, they would have found a deep tunnel and deposited it in there.
I'm following the only tunnel wide enough for the cross and a diver to fit in.
Ashley, what are you seeing down there? A skull? Ashley? Ashley, can you hear me? Hey, Ashley, do you copy? Ashley? Come on, Ashley.
Let me know what's going on.
That was something else.
I've never in my life experienced anything like that.
The rock was too unstable to move safely, but I did find an ancient cutting tool, evidence that someone was working down here.
And I found this skull.
Evidence that someone died here in this remote cave.
I also found a chamber Which may lead exactly there, right to that cross.
But it was sealed up with rocks.
This place is not only dangerous, but it's also protected by the authorities, which means no digging.
We can't go any further.
With the dangers facing those who seek the cross, maybe it will stay hidden, just like the 13 priests and the 9 children intended centuries ago.