So this has been rattling in my brain for awhile, but I’ve been trying to figure out where the map to the first Jedi Temple actually came from. I feel like we all just assume we know, but if I were to ask you all you probably would give me a variety of answers.
I just wanted to throw out my own, I don’t know, head-canon(?), and see what you guys think.
So, let’s start with what we know.
The Map itself appears to be a map of the entire galaxy, with a golden trail of points that stretches across it (presumably each point is a planet/moon). The Map is separated into two pieces, the greater Map that originates, as far as we know, from the archives of the Empire. Since it was also in R2’s back-up data, and R2 apparently downloaded that information from the First Death Star, we can assume the greater Map at least dates back to the Battle of Yavin.
The lesser Map existed on a data rod, found by Lor San Tekka around 34 years after the Battle of Yavin, and it also contained a golden path of points (stops/planets) that connected to the greater Map and ended at Ach-To, the location of the first Jedi Temple. It seems these two pieces do come from the same data set, since they fit together perfectly like puzzle pieces and the trails also connect.
The lesser Map mostly, if not completely, consists of uncharted systems, so it is basically impossible to interpret without the context of any known systems. So, the greater map is necessary because it provides that context with rest of the known galaxy and as well as the orientation the golden path provides.
Many of us assumed before TLJ that Luke may have left clues to his whereabouts, and that the map was a clue, and the golden path was the route of stops he made along the way, but this can’t work for two reasons: One, Luke did not want to be found, he went there to die, so he would have not left any clues to his location. And two, the greater Map existed before Luke was ever a Jedi, meaning the golden path predates Jedi Master Luke Skywalker.
So this leaves a few questions: Who created the golden path? What do the points on the path represent? Why did the map have a missing piece? There are others but I’ll start with those.
This is my theory.
The Map as we know it dates at least to the Empire’s reign, and it was made by an Imperial archaeologist who was tasked with finding the first Jedi temple.
Each point on the map is some kind of Jedi archaeological site, and the Archaelogist was retracing the “Jedi steps” to determine their point of origin. Basically, the Archaelogist could use clues from each site, in combination with something like radiocarbon dating, to determine the age of each site. If the Archaelogist were to travel from younger sites to older sites, he could determine the direction the Jedi migrated across the galaxy over generations. So, in theory, among all the data points on the map, Ach-To, the last point on the map, would be the oldest location, while the first point on the map would be the latest location. And, like I said, different sites could have different clues, like ancient star charts, items that could only be found on the next planet-point on the map, etc.
The Archaelogist eventually managed to find the first Jedi Temple, but something happened before he could turn in that information. Either he died and his body was never found before he could turn in that final data set, or, he discovered that the Emperor’s intention was to destroy all of these sites, including the first Jedi temple, to erase the Jedi from the galaxy’s history (maybe he knew that from the get-go, but had a change of heart). So, instead of turning the rest of the map in, he hid it. Then the Archeaologist went into hiding, or died, or was killed, basically the Empire never had a chance to extract that information from him.
All of this would have predated the Battle of Yavin.
So, years later Luke and Lor San Tekka discover the greater Map, and go on a journey to find the last Jedi temple themselves, or find the missing piece that could lead them there. However, before this quest is ever complete, Ben destroys Luke’s Jedi Temple. Luke goes into exile and the people who knew him are only left with the knowledge that he was going to search for the First Jedi Temple.
It is possible Luke found the missing piece of the map, but since Luke presumably traveled to Ach-To without an astromech droid, I think Luke used a combination of his existing knowledge, plus allowing the Force to guide him, to be able to reach Ach-To.
Lor San Tekka, on the other hand, continued looking for the missing piece of the Archeaologist’s map and eventually found it, which is where The Force Awakens starts.
Is there anything that would contradict this? Is there a better idea you’ve heard?