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Aksum: Raiders Of The Lost Ark?

The Tombs of King Kaleb, Aksum, Ethiopia

The Tombs of King Kaleb, Aksum, Ethiopia

Listen to Ethiopians and you come to believe that pretty much everything started and happened in Aksum…

  • The capital city of the Queen of Sheba? Aksum!
  • The present hiding place of the Ark of Covenant? Aksum!

Ethiopians do not express the slightest doubt about all this. So Indiana Jones must have been all wrong…

Once, when looking at the remains of a church from the 4th century, our guide Gabril casually pointed at an elderly man in a short distance. He was leaning on a fence of a small compound surrounding what looked like a chapel. “This is the guardian of the Arc of Covenant,” Gabril said without even blinking an eye lid. Then added: “He never leaves the compound and is served by a handful of helpers”.

We did not ask silly questions, but simply allowed our fantasies running wild. We pictured Israeli paratroopers descending from helicopters, grabbing the two stone tablets with Moses commandments and airlifting them back to where they have been missing for thousands of years…

How this priceless treasure got to Aksum? The Queen of Sheba returned pregnant with a son from a visit to King Solomon in Jerusalem. When their mutual son Menelik reached adulthood, he went to visit his father in the Holy Land. After three years he could not wait to return to his mother in Aksum. A huge party accompanied him. This included the son of the high priest of Jerusalem, who viciously had taken the Ark of Covenant with him. And so it has been in Axum for over 2.000 years… This has been the absolute truth for every Ethiopians over the centuries. Why should tourists remain immune to such a plausible story?

What truly existed was the once huge and powerful Axumite Empire (100 BC and 700 AD). However, very little historic evidence remains from those days. Only a few of the historic monuments have been excavated, so stories like that one have flourished over the centuries.

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