Nat Geo brings the subject back into discussion
The monks who live in the small church of Saint Mary of Zion — also known as the “Chapel of the Ark” — in the sacred Ethiopian city of Aksum are forbidden to go beyond the bars surrounding the chapel.
They cannot abandon the task entrusted to them: to watch over the “Tabot,” as the Tables of the Law are known in Ethiopia, until the day they die.
Abba Gebre Meskel, who is 56 years old, has been doing it for three decades.
Archaeology and legend
According to the Book of Exodus, the Tables of the Law contain the ten commandments God gave Moses high atop Mount Sinai. Some would date the event to the year 1440 BC.
Apocryphal legends, part of common knowledge and tradition in northern Africa and some regions in the Middle East, attribute supernatural powers to the Tables. Around these legends, some others were woven, including the alleged Nazi obsession with occultism and relics that would give Indiana Jones one of his most famous missions.
But the truth is that, after the destruction of Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem, nobody knows for sure where the Ark of the Covenant ended up. After disappearing without a trace – and with no known register of its whereabouts – its whereabouts (assuming it survived the destruction of the Temple) is still one of archaeology’s greatest mysteries.
Nevertheless, almost 45 million Orthodox Christian Ethiopians are certain that the Ark of the Covenant was taken, almost 3000 years ago, to Aksum, in northern Ethiopia, and that it has been guarded ever since by these monks in the humble church of Saint Mary of Zion.
– See more at: aleteia.org