Africa - Archaeology

Zimbabwe hopes to boost tourism with Biblical replica

The Ark of God Carried Into the Temple
The Ark of God Carried Into the Temple Hermann and Jannequin de Limbourg

Zimbabwe is pinning its hopes on a tourism revival, on the astonishing claim that a 600-year-old replica of the the biblical Ark of the the Covenant has been found.

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A London-based scholar says that the drum-like object in the Harare Museum is nothing less the the replacement of the biblical artifact that disappeared from King Solomon's temple.

Zimbabweans believe this find could turn around its tourism fortunes. This very controversial claim was made by Tudor Parfitt of the School of African and Oriental Studies in London.

He's been studying the Lemba tribe for the past 30 years and is currently in Zimbabwe to discuss his findings.

The drum-like object was appparently brought by the Lemba tribe who originate from the Middle East, through Arabia (Yemen), through to Eastern and then Southern Africa.

They call this object a Ngoma Lu Ngundu, which means 'the voice of God.' Professor Parfitt claims that the Ngoma Lu Ngundu is actually a replica of the Ark of the Covenant from Biblical times.

Scholars say the real Ark disappeared 2,500 years ago. Carbon testing on the Ngoma Lu Ngundu shows that splinters of it date back to 1350 A.D.

Some Western scholars are extremely skeptical of Parfitt's claims, but that's not the case in Zimbabwe.The Ngoma Lu Ngundu, which has been kept in Harare's National History Museum for decades, will be dusted off and displayed at a special presentation tonight.

Zimbabwe's director of National Museums Godfrey Mahachi says that the fact that the relic has been found here places Zimbabwe in a very special position.

Ten years of political turmoil has scared the tourists away, but authorities hope the Ark, and the World Cup in June, could bring them flocking back.

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