Archaeologists Dig Ancient Site Where Ark Of The Covenant Once Stood

Joshua passing the River Jordan with the Ark of the Covenant by Benjamin West, 1800.Wikipedia

In 1981, Steven Spielberg directed a movie called "Raiders of the Lost Ark" starring Harrison Ford. That blockbuster became one of the highest-grossing films of all time.

It tells the story of archaeologist Indiana Jones who tried to stop Hitler's Nazi agents from acquiring the Ark of the Covenant, which the Nazis believed contain relics that would make their armies become invincible in battle.

Now, an actual search for the Ark is set to begin, The Times of Israel reported.

The Ark of the Covenant is believed to be a wooden and gold-plated box that supposedly contains the famous stone tablets which bear the Ten Commandments.

For thousands of years nobody has ever been able to find the sacred box despite its legendary fame, according to The Daily Mail.

This time though, researchers from Israel and France are launching a serious quest to find the Ark by excavating a little-explored biblical site in Israel believed to be the place where the lost artefact was once located.

The ancient site is called Kiriath-Jearim, in west Jerusalem. "The place is important for several reasons," Professor Israel Finkelstein, from Tel Aviv University, told The Times of Israel.

"It's a large, central site in the Jerusalem hills that hasn't been studied until now. It may be the only key site in Judah that hasn't undergone a systematic archaeological excavation," he said.

The Book of Samuel points out that the famous Ark was stored at Kiryat Ye'arim for two decades, and was looked after by the priest Elazar, before King David conveyed it to his capital in Jerusalem, according to The Christian Post.

1 Chronicles 13:3-5 reads: "'Let us bring the ark of our God back to us, for we did not inquire of it during the reign of Saul.' The whole assembly agreed to do this, because it seemed right to all the people. So David assembled all Israel, from the Shihor River in Egypt to Lebo Hamath, to bring the ark of God from Kiriath Jearim."

Kiriath Jearim is mostly bare land where a 20th century monastery dedicated to Our Lady of the Ark of the Covenant sits atop the ruins of an earlier Byzantine structure at the summit.

Professor Finkelstein, who will be among those leading the excavation, said: "It's reasonable to assume there was a temple there. To follow the story, the place where they took the Ark of the Covenant wasn't, of course, just some field or under a tree, they refer to an important cult place."

The researchers will start exploring the ancient site on Aug. 7.