A journalist and travel writer in the employ of the Ethiopian government in the early 1980's hears mention that the great lost treasure of the Jewish race - the ark of the covenant in which Moses placed the ten commandments - is reputed to be held in a church somewhere in Ethiopia ...
The same man later sees the Hollywood blockbuster 'Raiders of the lost Ark', and an idea begins to find shape in his mind which will take some years to come to fruition ...
In 1989 at Chartres Cathedral, France, he is drawn to a small, seemingly insignificant carving which mysteriously hints that the tale he heard in Ethiopia may be true - that that may, in fact, be the last resting place of the Ark ...
The man is Graham Hancock - and the story of his quest to discover the truth behind the legends is the breathtaking real life adventure of The Sign and The Seal. the book that launched Graham into the bestseller lists worldwide.
Following obscure clues found within ancient stories and Biblical tales, through the occult knowledge gleaned from the coded Grail epic of Wolfram Von Eschenbach, and the obscure and secretive workings of the enigmatic Knights Templar, Graham traces the Ark from its source in ancient Egypt, to Jerusalem, and from there to its final resting place in Africa.
This is a tale worthy of Indiana Jones himself! A real modern day quest set against the lost knowledge of the ancient world and the political intrigues of the contemporary one.
Here is the first inkling that the technology of ancient Egypt, that produced the Ark, was something mysterious and powerful - a legacy, perhaps of something older and forgotten - here is the seeds that would flower in Fingerprints of the Gods. Was Moses an initiate of the lost Egyptian wisdom - the lost wisdom of the survivors of a cataclysmic flood?
A deeply personal account of a quest for meaning, The Sign and the Seal is a must-read for any interested in the ancient world or in the genesis of Graham Hancock's thinking.
See below for a sample chapter
The Sign and the Seal, Sample chapter: Chapter 1 (cont.)
By Graham Hancock
A GREAT MYSTERY OF THE BIBLE
In early Old Testament
times the Ark of the Covenant was worshipped by the Israelites as the
embodiment of God Himself, as the sign and the seal of His presence
on earth, as the stronghold of His power, and as the instrument of
His ineffable will.(1) Built to contain the tablets of stone upon
which the Ten Commandments had been written, it was a wooden chest
measuring three feet nine inches long by two feet three inches high
and wide.(2)It was lined inside and out with pure gold and was
surmounted by two winged figures of cherubim that faced each other
across its heavy golden lid.(3)
Biblical and other
archaic sources speak of the Ark blazing with fire and light,
inflicting cancerous tumours and severe burns, levelling mountains,
stopping rivers, blasting whole armies and laying waste cities. The
same sources also leave no doubt that it was, for a very long time,
the cornerstone of the evolving Jewish faith: indeed when King
Solomon built the First Temple in Jerusalem his sole motive was to
create 'an house of rest for the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord'(4)
At some unknown date between the tenth and the sixth century BC,
however, this uniquely precious and puissant object vanished from its
place in the Holy of Holies of that Temple, vanished without song or
lamentation in the Scriptures — almost as though it had never
existed at all. The evidence suggests that it was already long gone
when the armies of Nebuchadnezzar burned Jerusalem in 587 BC.
Certainly it was not in the Second Temple which was built over the
ruins of the First after the Jews had returned from their exile in
Babylon in 538 BC. Neither does it seem to have been taken as booty
by the Babylonians.
Writing in 1987,
Richard Elliott Friedman, Professor of Hebrew and Comparative
Religion at the University of California, expressed a view shared by
many scholars when he described the disappearance of the sacred relic
as 'one of the great mysteries of the Bible':
There is no report
that the Ark was carried away or destroyed or hidden. There is not
even any comment such as 'And then the Ark disappeared and we do not
know what happened to it' or 'And no one knows where it is to this
day'. The most important object in the world, in the biblical view,
simply ceases to be in the story.'(5)
Indeed so. A close
reading of the Old Testament reveals more than two hundred separate
references to the Ark of the Covenant up until the time of Solomon
(970-931 BC); after the reign of that wise and splendid king it is
almost never mentioned again.(6) And this, surely, is the central
problem, the real historical enigma: not, human nature being what it
is, that an immensely valuable golden chest should go missing, but —
given its supreme religious significance — that it should go
missing amidst such a deafening, improbable silence. Like a black
hole in space, or a negative photographic image, it is identifiable
in the later books of the Old Testament only by what it is not —
it is, in short, conspicuous only by its absence.
From this it seems
reasonable to suggest that some sort of cover-up may have taken place
— a cover-up devised by priests and scribes to ensure that the
whereabouts of the sacred relic would remain forever a secret. If so
then it is a secret that many have tried to penetrate — a
secret that has inspired several treasure-hunting expeditions (all of
which have failed) and also one enormously successful Hollywood
fantasy, Raiders of the Lost Ark, which was first released in the USA
and Europe in 1981 with Harrison Ford in the starring role as Indiana
I was living in Kenya
at the time and had no opportunity to see the film until it finally
arrived in Nairobi's cinemas early in 1983. I enjoyed the combination
of action, adventure and archaeology and I remember thinking what a
sensation it would be if someone were really to find the Ark. Then,
only a few months later, I made an extended visit to Ethiopia during
which I travelled to the north-west of the war-torn province of
Tigray. It was there, in Axum — the so-called 'sacred city of
the Ethiopians'(7) — that I had my encounter with the guardian
monk reported earlier in this chapter.