Kingsley, Sean A.
Kingsley, Sean A.
(Sean A. Kingsley)
Education: Oxford University, Ph.D.
Archaeologist; managing editor of Minerva: The International Review of Ancient Art and Archaeology.
(With Kurt Raveh) The Ancient Harbour and Anchorage at Dor, Israel: Results of the Underwater Surveys, 1976-1991, Tempus Reparatum (Oxford, England), 1996.
(Editor, with Michael Decker) Economy and Exchange in the East Mediterranean during Late Antiquity: Proceedings of a Conference at Somerville College, Oxford, 29th May, 1999, Oxbow (Oxford, England), 2001.
A Sixth-Century AD Shipwreck off the Carmel Coast, Israel: Dor D and Holy Land Wine Trade, Archaeopress (Oxford, England), 2002.
Shipwreck Archaeology of the Holy Land: Processes and Parameters, Duckworth (London, England), 2004.
God's Gold: A Quest for the Lost Temple Treasures of Jerusalem, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2007.
A specialist in the archaeology of the Holy Land, Sean A. Kingsley has written or edited several volumes of scholarly material, including The Ancient Harbour and Anchorage at Dor, Israel: Results of the Underwater Surveys, 1976-1991, A Sixth-Century AD Shipwreck off the Carmel Coast, Israel: Dor D and Holy Land Wine Trade, and Shipwreck Archaeology of the Holy Land: Processes and Parameters. He has more than fifteen years of experience exploring ancient ruins, from the coast of Montenegro to the Carmel region of Israel. In 1991 Kingsley, who has particular expertise in marine archaeology, discovered the largest concentration of ancient shipwrecks in the Mediterranean Sea, near Israel's central coast. While taking a break during that diving expedition, he read a news report stating that the Pope had taken the gold candelabrum stolen from the Temple of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 by the Roman emperor, and buried the treasure beneath the Vatican, where it still lies. Intrigued, Kingsley decided to find out if this allegation were true. In God's Gold: A Quest for the Lost Temple Treasures of Jerusalem, he chronicles the decade he spent in search of this gold, concluding that the treasure is not in fact in the Vatican, but remains buried back in the Holy Land, in a Greek Orthodox monastery in the West Bank east of Bethlehem.
The plunder from the temple, comprising some fifty tons of gold and silver vessels—including the central icons of Judaism: the seven-branched golden candelabra, the Tablet of the Divine Presence, and two silver trumpets—was stolen in A.D. 70 by the Roman Emperor Vespian and his son, Titus during their conquest of Jerusalem. The Romans used this treasure to finance construction of the Colosseum in Rome. The candelabra remained on public display in Rome until the early fifth century, then suddenly disappeared. Traditional theory holds that the Pope hid the treasure; indeed, in 1996, Israel officially requested its return. According to Kingsley, though, the treasure was taken from Rome when it was destroyed by the Vandal invasions of A.D. 455. The Vandal king, Gaiseric, ‘threw everything he could, including the temple treasures, into ships and took them to the temple of Carthage,’ Kingsley claims in remarks quoted by San Francisco Chronicle writer Matthew Kalman. ‘They would not have liquidated the loot. It gave them power.’ Soon after, the Vandal king was brought to Constantinople and his plunder went with him. Around A.D. 560, it was sent back to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, but after that point the story becomes, as Kingsley explained to Kalman, ‘a matter of interpretation.’ In Kingsley's view, the gold was removed from the Holy Sepulchre by the monk Modestus, from the monastery at Mar Theodosius, who hid it in the monastery's remote desert caves. There, it survived the looting of Persian armies who ransacked the region in A.D. 614. ‘I am the first person to prove that the temple treasure is no longer in Rome,’ he said to Kalman. But he has not been able to gain access to the monastery to definitively prove his thesis.
Though Kalman reserved judgment as to the truth of Kingsley's claim, the critic found God's Gold a ‘compelling’ story. Many reviewers felt likewise, though Geographical contributor Nick Smith expressed disappointment that the book fails to deliver on its promise—that the treasure will be found. In Smith's view, God's Gold is weakened by its efforts to exploit the elements of adventure and conspiracy in the story. A Publishers Weekly reviewer, on the other hand, noted that ‘Kingsley's bracing tale of religious intrigue grips the imagination.’ In Booklist, Bryce Christensen noted that Kingsley reveals ‘exciting’ evidence and crafts a thrilling story.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Archaeology, July 1, 2007, ‘Gold Diggers,’ p. 17.
Booklist, June 1, 2007, Bryce Christensen, review of God's Gold: A Quest for the Lost Temple Treasures of Jerusalem, p. 22.
Geographical, December, 2006, Nick Smith, review of God's Gold, p. 92.
Library Journal, June 1, 2007, Richard Fraser, review of God's Gold, p. 129.
Philadelphia Inquirer, September 19, 2007, Richard Di Dio, ‘‘God's Gold’: Sean Kingsley on the Trail of Objects Taken from Second Temple."
Publishers Weekly, April 23, 2007, review of God's Gold, p. 40.
San Francisco Chronicle, October 23, 2006, Matthew Kalman, ‘Ancient Jewish Treasures in Monastery, Book Says."
Times Literary Supplement, May 4, 2007, ‘Still Missing,’ p. 26.
Daily Grail,http://www.dailygrail.com/ (October 30, 2007), ‘Seeking God's Gold—Dr. Sean Kingsley."
God's Gold Web site,http://www.godsgold.org (October 30. 2007).