The Ark of the Covenant. A gold-plated chest known for being the abode of the Ten Commandments: two stone tablets stating the ten most fundamental principles of Jewish and Christian life, and the basis of most, if not all, judicial laws of the modern world. The widely-accepted current belief is that it vanished from history after the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem. But some would beg to differ, even going so far as to say they’re in possession of it. So I bring to you 10 locations where the Ark apparently can be found.
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10 Rosslyn Chapel
Hey, I know that place. Well you’re not wrong at all. Featured in 2003 film The Da Vinci Code, this 15th-century Anglican chapel in southern Scotland has long been the centre of rumours about the Holy Grail and the Knights Templar, and now the Ark. But the Chapel and Jerusalem are 5510km apart (via the A3 motorway of course) so where’s the link?
Following publication of the 1982 book The Holy Book and The Holy Grail written by Baigent, Leigh and Lincoln, theories came up suggesting that the Chapel was a reproduction of Solomon’s Temple, where the Ark was originally stored in its glorious days. Could this small, innocent place of worship just be a reminder of Israel’s past, or is there a deeper, hidden connection?
9 Mt. Tsurugi
I can almost guarantee you weren’t expecting this one. Located on the Japanese island of Shikoku, this mountain is the second highest in western Japan and is a spiritual centre of Shugendo, an ancient ascetic religion. Still don’t get it, do you? Allow me to explain.
Masanori Takane, thought of as a Japanese Indiana Jones (badass) , found striking similarities between the Bible and Japanese chronicles of myths and legends, and after extensive research concluded that the Ark was on Mt. Tsurugi. However, after excessive excavations, his beliefs didn’t come to fruition and the Ark wasn’t discovered. What’s interesting though is the Tsurugisan Hozoseki Shrine Ceremony, a ritual that occurs here where a large golden shrine is carried by poles by men dressed in white robes, oddly similar to the Jewish rituals of the Ark in Solomon’s age. I wouldn’t touch that shrine if I were you…
8 Temple of Edfu
Deep in southern Egypt in the city of Edfu lies an ancient Egyptian temple, built by the Ptolemaic kings to appease Horus, the god of the sky and the protector of the Pharaoh. This is the Temple of Edfu.
However, an interesting antique found here is the Ark of Horus. A small statue of Horus was placed in the temple’s Holy of Holies (yes, exactly like Solomon’s) and was accessible only by the Pharaoh and the high priest. Priests would then transport the statue in an ark resting in a small boat held by two poles. A wall carving of the Ark of Horus in the temple showed that two bird-like creatures were sat above the boat facing each other. This ark is still available there to see. Hundreds of visitors could just be casually strolling past the glory of God. Think about that…
Some of the keen-eyed of you might have already noticed something about the name of this place. But anyway, this is a city situated in southern Turkey, close to the border with Syria. But what’s the relation between the Ark and what looks like your everyday ordinary city?
According to the Shi’a sect of Islam, a Hadith states that the Mahdi, an Islamic Messiah-like figure, will appear in the end times and will bring forth the Ark from a “place called Antioch”. This was an ancient Greek city, one of the wealthiest capitals of the ancient Middle East, and its ruins lie in, yes you guessed it, modern-day Antakya. The Mahdi will then unveil it to the world as a sign of his dominion and power. Imagine it though, a golden shining chest emerging from the depths of a burger shop in downtown Antakya. Absolute scenes.
6 Locations In the Dead Sea Scrolls
In 1947, Bedouin shepherds stumbled across a discovery in the West Bank of Jordan that shook the archaeological world to its core. Over 900 scrolls, now known as the Dead Sea Scrolls, contained some of the earliest copies of Jewish teachings, prayers and customs. Surely there must be some clue here, right?
Well you are right. A specific scroll out of the 900 called the Copper Scroll is a bit different to the others: instead of being religiously centered, it was mainly focused on the locations of gold, silver and other treasures worth around $2 BILLION. Scholars suggest that the only place in the Middle East that had this much wealth was the treasury of the Temple of Jerusalem and may have included the Ark, even though it’s not explicitly mentioned. But get a checklist and shovel ready because the scroll gives a whopping 64 possible locations of these treasures. What better time than now?
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5 Chartres Cathedral
Shifting the location back to Europe now. Situated in northern France, Chartres Cathedral is one of the most well-known and iconic pieces of French Christian architecture to have existed. Rich in sculptures and its well-crafted stained glass would cause any tourist to stop and stare. Alright enough with the boring talk.
A pillar on the exterior of the church portrays the Knights Templar, a medieval-era Christian militant organisation, transporting what looks like a chest in a wheeled vehicle. I wonder what it could be! In 1118, the Templar’s soldiers allegedly made a mind-blowing discovery when, while digging under the Temple of Jerusalem, came across the Ark itself. Tradition states the Ark was hidden deep under the building before the Romans lay siege to Jerusalem. Ever since, it’s been supposedly kept in the Cathedral’s crypt without disturbance. Some things truly do love silence…
4 Southern Africa
In Zimbabwe and northern Africa lies an old, time-worn tribe of 70-80,000 members whose culture differs greatly from its African neighbours, refraining from pork, wearing skull caps and even having the Star of David on their gravestones. This is the Lemba people.
Their distinct Jewish culture is almost astonishing to the common man, but there’s more. A famous religious artefact was in their possession, called the ‘ngoma lungundu’ which translates into ‘the drum that thunders’. Their belief states that this is a replica made from the one and only Ark of the Covenant 700 years back. Genetic results suggested that the Lemba’s priestly clan, the Buba, could be descendants of the Kohanim, the Jewish priestly clan, backing up their tradition that the tribe descended from seven Jewish men who left Israel 2500 years ago. In fact, this “Ark” can be viewed for display. Personally, the ‘drum that thunders’ sounds more badass.
3 Mt. Nebo
Now this is one of the strongest candidates on the list. This mountain has a significant role in Judaism and Christianity as the place from where Moses saw the Promised Land and where he died, although his exact burial site is unknown. But is there something else that might be unknown?
According to the Book of Maccabees in the Bible, the prophet Jeremiah acted on instruction from God and hid the Ark in the mountain from where Moses saw the Promised Land. He found a cave, hid it in there and sealed the entrance. After a couple of his mates came to see what he was up to, he said no one will know about this place until “God gathers together His people” and “shows mercy.” We can only hope that day is coming, patience people… and no, blowing up the mountain certainly isn’t a good idea, I know there’s one or two of you thinking that.
2 Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion
A church situated in Aksum, Ethiopia and affiliated with the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, this suggestion is also mind-blowing because, similar to the Lemba people, the people of the church are openly stating they have the Ark. But one condition: you can’t see it. Great!
According to the Kebra Negast, Ethiopia’s chronicle of its monarchy, Menelik, the son of Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, visited his father in Jerusalem and on his way back home, it was revealed that the firstborn sons of some Israelite nobles, who had come with him, had actually stole the Ark. However, after realizing that the Ark’s powers didn’t destroy his escort, he concluded that it must be God’s will that it remains with him in Ethiopia. For over 3000 years, it’s been held at this church and guarded by virgin monks who, once anointed, can’t leave the church until they die, and the only man allowed to see the Ark is the head monk. I wonder if they get cleaners in there…
1 Temple Mount
This is an area in the Old City of Jerusalem and what’s believed to be standing above Solomon’s Temple, now revered by both Jews and Muslims and dominated by Islamic mosques and structures. “But there’s no way it could be here! We went around the entire world just to come back,” I hear you say. But hear me out.
After the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem, the Ark seemingly vanished. However, some scholars believe that many ancient Middle Eastern temples had a specified rooms in their buildings where high-standing and important relics were stored and hidden from the public, and Solomon’s Temple was no different. This has led to some scholars to deduce that the Ark might have been hidden before the siege took place, and this is backed up by the fact there are no mentions of the Ark in the list of treasures carried away to Babylon and the list of treasures sent back to Jerusalem. I think this is funny because this is the textbook example of looking for your phone all around the house and then you find it in your pocket.
Have I missed any out? Leave some of your suggestions in the comments!
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