This holy object disappeared from the Temple when the Babylonians invaded Jerusalem in 586 BC and was lost - apparently forever.
According to the biblical account, the Ark was built at the command of God, in accord with Moses's prophetic vision on Mount Sinai. The Ark, believed to be the throne of God, was carried by the Israelite high priests in the wilderness during their harrowing search for a homeland. When the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem, the Ark entered the domain of legend.
The mysterious disappearance of arguably the most important religious artifact in history led to a plethora of theories about the location of the Ark. Its whereabouts unknown, adventurers risked their lives and fortunes for over two millennia in attempts to discover this sacred treasure.
With painstaking historical scholarship, groundbreaking genetic science, and hair-raising fieldwork, Parfitt, who the Wall Street Journal calls "a British Indiana Jones", debunks the previous myths and reveals the shocking history of the Ark and its keepers.
From Israel to Egypt, Ethiopia, and the ruins of Great Zimbabwe, the journey leads to places Parfitt could never have imagined. He encounters a cannibalistic tribe in Papua, New Guinea. He is ambushed and shot at in Africa. And he narrowly escapes being kidnapped by Islamist outlaws in the wilder reaches of Yemen.
Throughout his search, he is aided by a motley crew of kabbalistic mystics, Muslim holy men, charlatans and crooks, tribal elders, and scheming politicians.
©2008 Tudor Parfitt; (P)2008 HarperCollins Publishers
"The Lost Ark of the Covenant" by Tudor Parfitt is a controversial book. The very selection of the theme, the quest for traces of Lost Ark of Covenant, the most sacred physical object in the entire biblical narrative - is controversial by itself.
No wonder, after Indiana Jones or Sussman's "The Last Secret ..." it is hard to write about the Ark without falling or into scholarly-historic-archeological style or into a kind of thriller.
When you read it however, you find both notes — sometimes the melody is like it was to accompany Indiana Jones — sometime you hear a song of true scholar.
The book describes the author's life-long quest for the biblical Lost Ark of Covenant. Parfitt, from the very beginning shows his preference for the hypothesis of African trail of the Ark. And for good. He is a very well known advocate of the theory that assumes that the African tribe of Lemba, where a Judaic trend is clearly visible, was directly responsible for preservation of the Ark.
The book becomes a real page turner when it describes apparently futile, long and dangerous trip through Yemen and later, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Ethiopia. In another chapter he goes after the Judaic trails in Papua, New Guinea. This episode, with some recent cannibalistic tribe goes too far toward "Indiana Jones melody".
However, in other parts, particularly those devoted to the Ark itself, called 'ngoma lungundu' by Lemba people he writes in a very good scholarly but not entirely dull, tone. The Ark, according to Parfitt was in fact ... a drum, a horrifying musical instrument and the ancient weapon of mass destruction.
The book concludes in a better tone. There are no fanfares, no pseudo-religious boosting - there is just a moldy drum, sitting in a dusty museum storeroom, which author believes IS the true Ark's duplicate made in XIV century...
Good Book !
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