Here is a picture of me and the Ark of the Covenant. No? OK to be completely accurate, here is a picture of me and the church where the Ark is stored. Right?
Ask anyone who grew up in the 1980s outside of Ethiopia and they will tell you – the Ark is in a wooden box labelled ‘Top Secret’ and kept in a secret US storage facility, after Indiana Jones saved it from the Nazis who had stolen it from a tomb in Egypt.
Ask any Ethiopian and they will tell you – the Ark is right here in the inauspicious-looking St. Mary of Zion Church in Axum. It was stolen from Jerusalem by King Menelik I, son of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, who ruled over Ethiopia from 950 BC. No Nazis, no staffs reflecting beams of light, no underground tomb, just this small church in northern Ethiopia.
Ethiopia is a country where myth, history and religion are one. Every guide and local will recount the same story with resolute conviction and pride. In contrast, many academics believe that the Ethiopian legend of the Ark was actually introduced by The Kebra Nagast, or The Glory of the Kings, a 14th-century account of the origins of the Solomonic line of the Emperors of Ethiopia. It is thought that this account was used to legitimise claims to the throne by the supposed Solominic descendants. Whatever the truth of the matter (and who cares for truth, really), I’m sticking to the story that I found the lost Ark.