Site for Esoteric History 


A film by director Bruce Burgess
and producer René Barnett
(Los Angeles: Bluebook Films, 2008)

Recently I watched the "feature pseudo-documentary," including all bonus features, Bloodline. In a nutshell the documentary presents a series of interrelated claims like the existence of Jesus' and Mary Magdalene's offspring; the protection of this bloodline by the 12th century, still existing and very powerful secret society the Priory of Sion (the real mover behind the Templars); and its coming out of hiding through its recent grand master Pierre Plantard. Central to the story is also the Roman Catholic priest, Bérenger Saunière, who found around the turn of the 19th century evidence of the whole lineage hidden in his church in Rennes-le-Chateau. He became subsequently very rich and left curious clues of his knowledge for later generations to find. Burgess did interviews with self-declared representatives of the Priory, Gino Sandri and Nicolas Haywood, who were so kind to corroborate many of the astounding claims. Burgess was also to meet a British Lord to receive important additional information, but the chap suspiciously died a few days before the meeting would take place. Burgess then buddies up with a British treasure-hunter, Ben Hammot, and together, following Saunière's clues left in little bottles, find very suggestive evidence in a tomb close to Rennes-le-Chateau with possibly Mary Magdalene's remains. Hammot provides some footage of the inside of the tomb, though it's not really clear when and where the footage was taken. It has a mummy draped in something resembling a Templar tunic. They take a hair sample and have it analyzed by a professional laboratory and present the results indicating a middle-eastern origin.

Before giving my own interpretation, it looks that reviews of the film range between Paul Smith's debunking two-liner and Rob Humanick's enthusiastic assessment. Paul Smith described the documentary as an "[a]ssortment of pseudo-historical claims, hoax treasure discoveries and motley crew of charlatans. Totally uncritical 'documentary' giving the doubt to the extremely ludicrous." (1) Rob Humanick stated that "[c]oncrete or not, however, the physical evidence of his [Jesus'] bloodline as shown here is awesomely compelling, from interviews with individuals claiming intimate knowledge on the Priory of Sion--the organization rumored to have long protected the secrets of Jesus' life as covered up by the Catholic Church--to an extended exploration of a French tomb that contains what may very well be the mummified remains of Mary Magdalene." (2)

There seem to be at least three ways to deal with the whole Priory of Sion / Rennes-le-Chateau / Jesus' bloodline issue:

1) You want the truth and you become a researcher. Initially you might get stuck as there are just too many vague hypotheses and obscure details, which are beyond corroboration. Probably somewhere down the road you'll have to conclude it's all a little smelly and hoaxy and will have to categorize the whole story as a big prank, or more accurately, an accumulation of hoaxes.

2) Or, you know it is a hoax and under the pretense of serious research, you add your own plausible fantasies and fabrications, just for fun and/or monetary gain.

3) Or, as above, you know it is a hoax, but your own plausible additions are such that the story becomes intentionally self-exposing and self-refuting.

It is possible that Bloodline falls in the third category. The most indicative piece of evidence for that allegation is the fact that Bloodline director Bruce Burgess tells his audience that the mummy found in the tomb "has a unique Middle Eastern DNA profile," while the laboratory to which he provided a hair sample came to the conclusion that the "profile, when analyzed, is from a Caucasian heritage in northwestern Europe."

The full quote from the report by Paleo-DNA Laboratory in Canada runs thus:

The above profile, when analyzed, is from a Caucasian heritage in northwestern Europe. Strong evidence indicates Haplogroup I. Haplogroup I polymorphisms are thought to have arisen as far back as 50,000 years ago. The Foremother is thought to be "Iris" and could have lived approximately 43,000 years ago possibly in the Northern Middle East. This population spread to Europe early and can currently be found throughout the Mediterranean and Europe, but concentrated in areas such as the periphery of Europe, Finland, Western UK and their islands. In Europe the frequency of this haplotype is quite low at 4%.

When Burgess and Barnett show the DNA-report from the laboratory on camera he superimposed the following quote:

"Strong evidence indicates Haplogroup I which originated approximately 43,000 years ago in the Middle East."

There are some problems here. First, this is not a quote, but a paraphrase. Second, it looks like tweaking the actual conclusion of the report towards his gross misrepresentation of saying later that the corps "has a unique Middle Eastern DNA profile." Third, it doesn't prove anything as most Europeans have ancestors, if you go back enough, in the Middle East. I do, and so do most Europeans.

This dichotomy between the report and Burgess' use of it is quite disturbing and revealing. Is Burgess so stupid he cannot even interpret the research he commissioned? Or is he so desirous to make his point that he is overlooking the evidence and just reads what conforms to his belief? But he presents himself as a serious researcher, which status he seems to be effectively undermining. Or he knows what he is doing and, for whatever reason, intentionally misrepresents the research. So, he is either stupid or is intentionally misrepresenting the DNA findings. In either case it does severely taint the rest of the documentary. But why make such an egregious misrepresentation by including the documentary evidence for its refutation as a bonus feature? Maybe he thinks we are the stupid ones.

There are other facts, which have meanwhile been established, which he conveniently omits from the documentary.

1) No mention of the fact that the parchments allegedly found by Rennes-le-Chateau priest Saunière were actual fakes, admittedly created by Pierre Plantard and two of his friends, Philippe de Chérisey and Gérard de Sède.

2) No mention that the messages found by Hammot in the bottles were in very bad French with phrases patterned on English grammar.

3) No mention that the Priory of Sion was a 1956 creation of Plantard and that he was a hoaxer of humble origins, building upon previous myths and regarded by the authorities as a 'fantasist.'

4) No mention that Gino Sandri, who pretends to be the secretary-general of the Priory, also admits that the parchments were faked (allegedly to protect more important real documents).

5) Burgess presents Plantard as believing he is a descendant of Jesus, which he never did. He actually repudiated that claim and 'only' claimed to be the rightful inheritor of the Merovingian throne and therefore to be the real king of France. The Jesus bloodline angle was added to the Sauniere-Plantard story in 1982 by the writers of Holy Blood, Holy Grail, who probably knew they were peddling a tenuous hypothesis and possibly were in the possession of evidence undermining, if not refuting, their story.

6) And no mention of one of the best studies to date: Bill Putnam's and John Edwin Wood's The Treasure of Rennes-le-Château, A Mystery Solved. Published in 2003 this book should have been in Burgess' hands and guiding him through his research to see all the pitfalls, pranks and hoaxes which have accumulated over a period of more than 50 years. Instead he is travelling around with Baigent &co.'s discredited Holy Blood, Holy Grail.

Why is Burgess doing all of this shoddy work? It's so bad that it looks like he intentionally is setting himself up to be completely refuted and discredited. He might make a buck and get some acclaim in the process, but at what cost?

Of course the tomb and mummy found by Hammot have to be investigated by regular French archeologists. Burgess claims to have gotten them involved, but another researcher checked that and came to the opposite conclusion:

"DRAC, who would normally go to the site of an important discovery on the same day, did not create a dossier since no-one never saw the tomb or any photo or map of it. No word has been heard from Bruce or Ben since, strongly suggesting they only came in to get a quote they could use for the film, leaving DRAC embarrassed, angry and convinced this is a hoax." (3)

I'm sure we'll hear from Sandri or Haywood that the French authorities are playing politics and are under heavy pressure from elements in the Vatican or another very powerful secret society not to proceed investigating this. Remember, the stakes are very high as the whole history of Christianity might have to be re-written! I advise the Priory to find the name of the most recently deceased DRAC employee and spin a nice thriller around him with the allegation that this person wanted to open a dossier on the Hammot find and then suspiciously died. This would be a classic Plantard trick, which he pulled off at least four times, the last of which led to his complete exposure and undoing when he claimed that a then recently deceased businessman, Roger-Patrice Pelat, had been Grand Master of the Priory. Plantard had bad luck, because a French judge investigating Pelat for insider trading had Plantard's house searched and found a treasure-trove of fabricated documents. (4) Burgess also used the trick with good dramatic effects with the death of Lord Lichfield by claiming he was to meet him to receive important information and then the lord suddenly died.

Therefore you have to wonder: Did Hammot create the tomb and put in there a mummy and other items (probably somewhere in the UK to stay outside French jurisdiction) and fabricated and hid the badly written bottled messages? Or did someone else do all that and just led Hammot and Burgess by the nose with little clues here and there? After all, Plantard and friends went through great efforts to build up their hoax and successfully deceived Baigent &co. at least for a while. Did others, like Sandri and Haywood, independently continue? Or is there something more concerted behind this elaborate prank that would connect Plantard, de Chérisey, de Sède, Lincoln, Leigh, Baigent, Sandri, Haywood, Hammot, Burgess and Barnett on a deeper level? There is always room for a conspiracy behind a conspiracy.

Anyway, if ever you want to pull off a good hoax, study Plantard and all the others who jumped on the wagon including Burgess and Barnett. Or just enjoy a good story regardless of its truth. I enjoyed the acting of Sandri and Haywood and the nice shots of Rennes-le-Chateau and its environment.

Govert Schuller
October 11, 2009


1) Paul Smith "Da Vinci Code Documentaries" (accessed October 10, 2009)

2) Review for Slant Magazine (accessed October 10, 2009). The reviewer leaves the possibility open for the film to be "an amazingly constructed hoax."

3) Comment originally found in April 2009 on rlcresearch.com (Comment withdrawn)

4)See the Pelat Affair

Some background sources:

Priory of Sion on Wikipedia

Bill Putnam, John Edwin Wood, The Treasure of Rennes-le-Château, A Mystery Solved

Database relating to the matters of Priory of Sion

Dan Brown - Was Lord Lichfield Killed over Da Vinci Code Secret?

For more on Haplogroup I see National Geographic




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