Sunday, December 09, 2007

The Lost Ark

More than 40 years ago, I was stationed at Kagnew Station in Asmara, Eritrea, Ethiopia. Besides sampling the local nightlife (which was my favorite pastime), I did manage to take several trips into the Eritrean and Ethiopian countryside.

Before mid June of 1968 most of my close friends (AKA “The Gross Guys”) had left Kagnew for bigger and better things. Feeling lonely, I hooked up with a local girl in early June 1968. She worked on post and lived in a beautiful house not far from my favorite downtown Asmara bar (The Bar Fiore).

Her mother was half Italian and half Ethiopian and she was ¾ Italian and ¼ Ethiopian. Her mother was the mistress of an Asmara businessman (her Father).

One morning, at breakfast, I had a conversation with her mom and told her that I was going to see the ruins at Axum in a few days. She then related the following story.

When she was young (probably in the 1920’s) she travel from Addis Ababa to Asmara with her mother to be with her father (an Italian builder). On the way to Asmara they stopped at Axum for a day. Axum is a holy site and it was a celebration day. She told me that she had seen the Ark of the Covenant (but had a different name for it) being carried by the priests. I knew what she was talking about and shook my head in disbelief.

My first reaction was that there was no such thing – it’s a biblical myth. And why, if it did exist, would it be in Ethiopia? I went to Axum in July of 1968 and never saw the Ark.

Years later, in 1981, I saw the Steven Spielberg movie “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and I laughed at the possibility that the Ark of the Covenant did really exist. If you have seen this movie, and who hasn’t, you can understand the potential power of the Ark of the Covenant. That is, if you believe that it really does exist.

In this month’s Smithsonian Magazine there is a story by Paul Raffaele titled “Keepers of the Lost Ark”. Paul claims (as my Eritrean girlfriend’s mother did) to have seen the Ark in Axum (Aksum). He also claims to have taken pictures of priests carrying the Ark. He explains how and why the Ark was taken to Ethiopia. This is almost believable.

Believer or non-believer, it is a good article that is worth reading.

The Beach Bum

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just keeping you aware that I continue to read each of your posts on a near daily basis. As I too was in Axsum, I do not recall seeing the item for which your article is written. However, the oblisques and surrounding hills are still a strong memory in my hazy archive of memories. I was with some folks that were quite familiar with Axsum and the Arc was not a topic of discussion.

Mon Dec 10, 03:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Buck said...

Does this have anything to do with the infamous Ark Avenger?

Mon Dec 10, 04:10:00 PM  
Blogger Shelby said...

Interesting - I'll have to check out the Smithsonian article..

Tue Dec 11, 09:40:00 AM  
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