Biblical Archaeology Review 36:1, January/February 2010

ReViews: The Search for the Lost Menorah

The Last Ember by Daniel Levin is an archaeology adventure novel, in the same genre as, for example, King Solomon’s Mines or Raiders of the Lost Ark. As we have seen from Eric Cline’s nonfiction account of searches for lost artifacts,a there is considerable public interest in such topics, and readers who have that interest may find author Levin’s tale to their liking. Its premise is that the fabled gold menorah, thought to have been looted from the Jerusalem Temple by the Roman general (and later, emperor) Titus, in 70 A.D., was in fact saved by none other than the controversial Jewish historian Flavius Josephus. The hunt for the fabled artifact, triggered in modern time by clues in the writings of Josephus himself, involves a dashing protagonist, a not-very-transparent version—i.e., lawyer trained in classics—of the author himself. Together with his once and future girlfriend, a gorgeous Italian archaeologist, the hero traces clue after clue through a maze of plot twists, with a colorful supporting cast that features terrorists who finance their activities by selling looted artifacts, a Colombo-like Italian police inspector, and so forth.

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