How on earth did a two thousand year old statue of a Nabatean warrior living under the Roman Empire come to be mistaken for the 12th century Muslim ruler Saladin? As I discovered during my 2013 visit to Jordan – people in the past could get very confused about the origin of historic objects around them. In this case, believing that a statue embedded in the wall of the Templar castle of Kerak was that great enemy of the knights – Saladin.
DISCOVER: The Templars and the secrets of the Kabbala
Nabatean warrior and not Saladin at the Templar castle of Kerak
At Kerak castle, built by crusaders in the 12th century, there is a block of stone in the walls depicting a very muscular figure. For centuries, it was believed to be Saladin – scourge of the Templars and crusaders and the Muslim ruler who re-took Jerusalem. In fact, it definitely isn’t Saladin and is much, much older.
The figure is a Nabatean warrior – the civilisation that built the legendary tomb city of Petra. It dates back to the 2nd century AD and shows a cavalryman equipped for the afterlife. So what on earth is it doing in a crusader castle?
Well, masonry from much older monuments (this would have been nearly a thousand years old when Kerak was built during the crusades) was often incorporated into new buildings.
So this chap – whose name we shall never know – found himself immortalised in the wall of the Templar castle at Kerak. He is definitely not Saladin – unless the great Muslim ruler had been hitting the gym with gusto!
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