Biblical Archaeology Review 19:4, July/August 1993

Is the Ark of the Covenant in Ethiopia?

By Ephraim Isaac

Ever since the premiere of the popular movie Raiders of the Lost Ark, hardly a year passes without someone claiming to have found the Ark of the Covenant, the disappearance of which is one of the most famous Biblical mysteries. According to a very well-known, ancient Ethiopian tradition, how ever, the Ark did not disappear, but came to Ethiopia in the time of King Solomon. Now Graham Hancock, a much-published journalist formerly with The Economist, uses this tradition to claim that he has located the Ark of the Covenant in “a secluded sanctuary chapel” in Axum, Ethiopia.

As it is described in the Book of Exodus, the Ark was a chest measuring 4 feet, 2 inches (2.5 cubits) long; 2 feet, 6 inches (1.5 cubits) wide; and 2 feet, 6 inches (1.5 cubits) high. It was made of shittim or acacia, overlaid with gold inside and outside and was fashioned by two of the most skilled Israelite craftsmen. A golden crown and two cherubs facing each other decorated the top. It was covered by a pure gold cloth called kaporet. When it was transported in processions, the Ark was carried by staves inserted into four golden rings at the bottom corners (Exodus 25:10–22, 37:1–9).

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