Sign and the Seal: The Quest for the Lost Ark of the Covenant
by Graham Hancock
English journalist Hancock retells the circumstances and thoughts that led to his discovery that the Lost Ark of the Covenant really exists. Hancock was in Ethiopia in 1983, having been hired by the Ethiopian government to write and produce a coffee-table book extolling that country. He was greatly surprised when told that Ethiopia's Falasha Jews did not exist, and that many people could land in jail, or worse, if he went around photographing such nonexistents. Even so, off he went to Axum, deep in the desert, to see the temples and statuary of the Black Jews of Ethiopia. What he found was a sect that claimed to have the original Ark of the Covenant. Refused entrance to the sanctuary of the jealously guarded Ark, Hancock went home--and saw Steven Spielberg's Raiders of the Lost Ark, which inspired him to investigate the history of the Ark. Built at the foot of Mount Sinai, Hancock tells us, it ``was deposited [around 955 B.C.] by Solomon in the Holy of Holies of the First Temple.'' Later, Hancock says, it was stolen by Solomon's outcast son and carried south to Ethiopia and kept there for 800 years by a Judaic cult. Then it apparently was seized by the Knights Templar, who thought that it was the Holy Grail. The Knights converted the Jews, who kept the Ark in a great church. And to protect the Ark, all of the churches in the cult have their own replicas of the Ark: The original is never seen, even on the holiest days of the year. In 1991, during the Gulf War, Hancock returned to Axum to see the Ark--and was refused.