National Treasure: US National Archives Says Declaration of Independence Doesn’t Have Hidden Treasure Map

The US National Archives stresses there’s not a secret map hidden on the back of the Declaration of Independence as seen in Disney’s 2004 adventure film National Treasure.

“There’s no map on the Declaration of Independence, but on the back, upside down, is written ‘Original Declaration of Independence, dated 4th July 1776,” the US National Archives Twitter wrote in a tweet published July 4.

“We can tell you that there is some writing on the back of the Declaration, but it’s not a treasure map,” National Archives historian Jessie Kratz says in a video denying the Hollywood-created myth.

Kratz did note there is an unidentified hand print on the front corner of the Declaration, but no covert messages or clues were uncovered.

In National Treasure, history fanatic and obsessive treasure protector Ben Gates (Nic Cage) famously steals the Declaration of Independence and, using a combination of lemon juice and heat, uncovers a coded message revealing the location of the next clue in a nation-spanning treasure hunt.

The Declaration was carefully examined by staff when the document was re-encased in 2001, and no secret treasure map was discovered.

“No, that’s a Hollywood myth,” Kratz said. “There is no treasure map on the back of the Declaration. And please, never use lemon juice on original documents.”

In 2016, Cage said fact-checking was to blame for a long-awaited followup to 2007’s National Treasure: Book of Secrets.

“I haven’t really heard anything about that. I do know that those scripts are very difficult to write, because there has to be some credibility in terms of the facts and fact-checking, because it was relying on historical events. And then you have to make it entertaining,” Cage told EW.

“I know that it’s been a challenge to get the script where it needs to be. That’s as much as I’ve heard. But they’re still working on it.”

In July, director Jon Turteltaub told he would “love” to get going on National Treasure 3.

“Nic is like, in wardrobe right now. [Producer] Jerry Bruckheimer is ready to go,” Turteltaub said. “We would love to do [another one].” For that to happen, someone will have to “come up with about $80 million dollars to have it made.”


During an annual Disney shareholders meeting in March, CEO Bob Iger said the topic of National Treasure 3 is an oft-asked about one. When pressed for a status update, Iger said only “nothing has been greenlit.”

It’s unclear if the project could move forward on Disney’s coming streaming service, Disney+, where the studio will premiere original films and television series.