We are greatly saddened by the recent unexpected passing of His Holiness Abune Paulos, Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church. We believe his death makes our mission even more important, and are dedicated to continuing the work of preserving irreplaceable Ethiopian Christian artifacts by building the museum in Axum. Donations may be made on this website in honor of his memory and to help complete the project to which Abune Paulos devoted the last years of his life.
—James A. Everett Board President Ark of the Covenant Foundation
Read our FAQ to learn how the Ark of the Covenant Foundation is working to help preserve thousands of Ethiopia's priceless historical and religious artifacts.
Who is the Ark of the Covenant Foundation?
We are a U.S. 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization founded in Independence, Missouri in January 2012. The President of our Board of Directors is Mr. James A. Everett.
Mr. Everett owned a full-service advertising/public relations/marketing agency in Kansas City, Missouri for many years and is very active in the peace community. He served eight years as the volunteer Kansas City Interfaith Peace Alliance and received Kansas City's annual Citizen of the Year Award.
Mr. Everett was responsible for raising $1 million USD to build the U.N. Fountain and Plaza in Independence, the only memorial outside New York City dedicated to the United Nations and those who gave their lives in peacekeeping operations.
He has also raised more than $1 million USD worth of equipment and supplies for Saint Yared Hospital in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Why are you called the Ark of the Covenant Foundation?
If you’ve ever seen the movie Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark, you’re probably familiar with the Ark of the Covenant. In case you don’t remember, the Ark of the Covenant is the gold covered box described in the Book of Exodus as containing the tablets of stone on which the Ten Commandments were written and given to Moses atop Mount Sinai.
It is the belief Ethiopian Orthodox Christians that the True Ark of the Covenant now rests in a small chapel in Axum, Ethiopia and has been in the possession of Ethiopians for nearly three thousand years.
The name of our foundation is a way of identifying ourselves as being associated with a project of great importance to Ethiopians and members of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo (Unified) Church.
Why is the Ark of the Covenant Foundation raising money?
Recently, His Holiness, Patriarch Abune Paulos, along with the Holy Synod of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, elected to construct a modern, state-of-the-art museum and library in Axum as a critical step in preserving thousands of priceless Ethiopian artifacts that may be lost to history if we don’t take steps to protect them.
The artifacts we’re seeking to locate, restore and preserve are so historically significant that Axum, Ethiopia, where many of the artifacts are kept, was designated a UNESCO (United Nations) World Heritage Site in 1980. As such, the area is considered “…of outstanding cultural importance to the common heritage of humanity.”
It is the mission of Ark of the Covenant Foundation to support Abune Paulos and the Church in their efforts to build the museum in Axum. We believe it is through the generosity of people like you that these precious artifacts—some dating back to the time of Jesus and beyond—will be saved for future generations to view and study.
Who are some of the people involved in the project?
His Holiness Abune Paulos, Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church
Abune Paulos is Abune and Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church (1992 - incumbent). His full title is "His Holiness Abune Paulos, Fifth Patriarch and Catholicos of Ethiopia, Ichege of the See of St. Tekle Haymanot, Archbishop of Axum and as of 2006, one of the seven serving Presidents of the World Council of Churches."
He is a renowned scholar and peace advocate, and a former exile in the United States who has worked on reconciliation between Ethiopia and Eritrea.
During his time in office, much urban property that had been taken from the church has been returned, most notably the return of the campus and the library of Holy Trinity Theological College. He has also found success after he asked a British Museum to return ten "tabots" containing images of the Ark of the Covenant. These carvings, so sacred that only ordained priests may look at them, were plundered by British troops in 1868.
Abune Paulos has traveled widely, strengthening the ties of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church with other sister churches. He reluctantly acquiesced to the breaking away of the Eritrean Church when that country declared independence. Abune Paulos also took the initiative to the series of peace meetings between all Ethiopian and Eritrean religious leaders in 1998, 1999 and 2000 in an effort to bring peace between the two countries in response to a bitterly fought border war.
Patriarch Abune Paulos and the Orthodox Church have also been extensively involved in the support of war-displaced and drought-hit Ethiopians, making the Church one of the major relief organizations in the country.
In 1995, Abune Paulos asked for the faithful to fulfill their religious obligations by contributing their share to the restoration of Holy Trinity Cathedral. He led a Fundraising Committee of 15 people, which was established to work within the country and abroad on the project.
Abune Paulos has also implemented a proposal to build a University in Entoto that would help to commemorate the millennium according to the Ethiopian calendar. This University is intended to be a study and research center in Entoto Debre Hayl Saint Raguel Church.
Most recently, The Holy Synod and Abune Paulos appealed for the faithful to help build a museum to protect church heritage with a view to enabling them to be transferred to the next generation.
Excerpts taken from Wikipedia
Sisay Shimelis is the co-founder and co-owner of Saint Yared Hospital Holdings, (SYHH) an Ethiopian holding and operating company. His primary function for the company is in business development, international relations and finance.
Although he holds graduate degrees in both civil and structural engineering, as well as in accounting and international business, at the core, Mr. Shimelis is an international entrepreneur. He has created business partnerships in countries as diverse as the USA, Russia, Ukraine, South Africa, Djibouti, Mozambique, India, Angola, Tanzania, and his home country, Ethiopia.
He is currently the CEO of PTE international Inc., a US based technology transfer company focusing in the area of Technology, Energy, Agriculture and Food processing. He has held international business development officer positions for American corporations involved in technology transfer and major international construction projects.
Very interested in human capacity development, he has been responsible for the establishment of the major US engineering firm Black & Veatch in South Africa. He has spearheaded on the recruitment of African Diaspora experts for African Union on the transition of Organization African unity to African Union.
In addition to being a founding co-owner of Ethiopia’s first hospital built upon principles of managed care, Mr. Shimelis has the unique ability to look beyond existing problems and structures to untapped business opportunities, especially in developing countries.
For example, in 2003, Mr. Shimelis established National Biodiesel Corporation (NBC), Ethiopia’s first biodiesel company, with the singular goal of creating a homegrown renewable energy resource to reduce Ethiopia’s dependence on foreign oil. In 2004, the company has been acquired by UK-based Sun Biofuels, which has allowed it to expand to Mozambique, Tanzania and other African countries.
With more than twenty years of international business relationships, Mr. Shimelis has established a worldwide financing network and has access to major international commercial lending institutions and the major bilateral and international providers such as the US Export-Import Bank, International Finance Corporation, European Investment Bank, African Development Bank and others.
Mr. Shimelis is also the founder and the chairman of Global Financial Exchange, an innovative, purpose driven, electronic money transfer company created for the use of African Diasporas, primarily for those who reside in the USA. In addition to healthcare and ordinary remittances Mr. Shimelis is currently working on the application of the service to the Trans-Continental Mortgages for electronic fund transfers by diaspora Africans to their respective countries in partnership with reputable banks around the world.
Although born and raised in Ethiopia Mr. Shimelis received much of his formal education in France (Lyon), the then Soviet Union (St. Petersburg), Germany (Berlin) and, finally, the USA. As a consequence, he is multi-lingual and comfortable in diverse cultural environments, an essential quality for success in international business. Mr. Shimelis speaks fluent Russian, French, German, and Amharic.
One of his passions is a sincere commitment to assist Africa in the realization of its economic and human potential and the achievement of self-sufficiency as a nation. His current areas of work interest and commitment are related to projects that will bring cheaper sources of energy to East African citizens, including a 60 MGW solar power plant in Tanzania, a 250 MGW power plant in South Africa, a Commodity Exchange and Agro Industry Park in Tanzania and modern healthcare infrastructure and services in Ethiopia.
James A. Everett
James (Jim) Everett is the founder and president of the Ark of the Covenant Foundation. He received his M.A. degree in International Relations from the University of Chicago, has lived 15 years abroad, speaks several languages and has visited or worked in 35 countries. He served eight years as the Executive Director of the Kansas City Interfaith Peace Alliance, has taught as an adjunct professor in several universities, served on numerous Boards, was the coordinator for the U.N. Peace Plaza and Fountain in Independence, Missouri, founder of the not-for-profit Ethiopian Health Support Foundation, recipient of Kansas City's 2002 Citizen of the Year Award and the Crescent Peace Society's 2003 Peace Award 2003. He is a newspaper columnist and published author.
He was asked by his holiness Abune Paulos, Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Christian Church, to help raise funds to complete the construction of a modern museum in Axum, Ethiopia.
Terry P. Smith
Terry Smith began his career as a copywriter in 1980, working on local and regional accounts in the South Bend, Indiana area. Until the mid-90s, he generated marketing communications—with proven results—for clients such as Martin’s Super Markets, Public Works Magazine, Dance Magazine (a national client) and the University of Notre Dame.
In 2000, Hallmark Cards hired Mr. Smith as a greeting card writer. Over the next two years his writing appeared on cards for Shoebox, Fresh Ink, Between You and Me, Maxine and more. Two of his cards are among the 30 highest rated cards in the history of the company—an honor that no other Hallmark writer has ever achieved.
In 2003, he moved to Hallmark Loyalty—an internal emotional marketing agency within Hallmark—and was responsible for copywriting marketing materials for Fortune 1000 brands including Nestlé, State Farm Insurance, FedEx, Schwan’s Food Services, QVC, Apple iTunes, Swarovski Crystal and Longaberger Baskets.
In 2005, he moved to the newly formed Hallmark Marketing Studio and took the title of Editorial Strategist. In his new role, he was responsible for communicating the benefits of the Hallmark Gold Crown brand to more than 14 million members of the Gold Crown Rewards Program.
Mr. Smith also spearheaded various specialty projects such as the rebranding of the Hallmark Hall of Fame and developing the style guide and campaign for the Hallmark 100th year anniversary.
In 2008, Mr. Smith left Hallmark to establish Smith Donovan Marketing & Communications, opening offices in Northwest Indiana and the Kansas City Metro area.
Although his specialty is branding and communications, Mr. Smith has also produced dozens of theatrical shows, album projects and concerts. He is currently an associate producer for the film “Rudderless,” a three-million-dollar independent film to be directed by Academy Award® nominated actor William H. Macy and starring Macy, along with Felicity Huffman, Laurence Fishburne and Emmy Rossum.
Thad's creative direction and technical abilities have led countless multimedia projects to award-winning conclusion. He has the ability to visualize and strategize complex subjects, resulting in simpler, more effective communications presented in compelling and modern ways. Such projects include video, websites and visual design across all media.
Thad has worked on high profile projects including directing tourism videos for Click Around Chicago, the Greater North Michigan Avenue Association and Indiana Dunes Tourism. He also was the project lead for the Rock Bottom Remainders website (for band members Stephen King, Dave Barry and others).
In less than ten years Thad turned a one-man operation into a successful international business with several employees and over two hundred clients across the globe.
Thad attended Purdue University Lafayette, Purdue University Calumet and Indiana University Northwest, culminating in a B.A. Liberal Arts (Fine Arts Major, Anthropology Minor.)
Phil Bauer is a marketing manager with 27 years experience specializing in consumer loyalty marketing and brand management.
He built one of the first specialty retail consumer loyalty programs in the country while at PetCare (now Petco), has managed profitable loyalty programs such as the Craftsman Club and Ace Rewards, and built the database marketing strategy for UMB Financial in Kansas City.
Phil firmly believes in a multi-media marketing strategy, and has used all forms of media – broadcast, print, online and direct mail – to manage and invigorate marketing programs for Craftsman tools, Advantage flea control products, Kemin Consumer Care, and his clients State Farm, Wells Fargo Home Mortgage and Cendant Mortgage while at Hallmark Loyalty.
Phil’s successful stint in sales for Hallmark Cards (he’s a two-time RB Hall Award winner) guides him in keeping close to the needs of the customer. This experience leads him to develop insightful marketing strategies that he translates into on-target and profitable execution at all levels.
Denis began working in the nonprofit development field in 1981. He founded Church Development in 1992 after a near-death experience motivated him to integrate his faith, education and skills in work that served the church and the virtue of stewardship.
His undergraduate and graduate studies are in organizational development and he was awarded the CFRE professional designation by the Association of Fundraising Professionals.
He has helped hundreds of churches and church-related organizations across the USA raise more than $200,000,000.
Greene is a member of the National Association of Church Business Administrators. He is the author of The Stewardship System, Stewardship-Based Capital Campaigns, and How To Ask For Donations as well as numerous articles on stewardship.
Tom has served church congregations most of his life, as pastor, finance director, planner and stewardship coordinator, in many diverse church settings. For over five years he was director of the Office of Stewardship and Development for the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City – St. Joseph, responsible for a multi-million dollar annual appeal, stewardship education, planned giving and development.
Tom has seen at close hand the impact of stewardship on churches, and the impact of churches on individual lives and society. He joined the staff of Church Development in 2012.
Tom has M.A.s in Theology and Counseling and lives in south Kansas City with his wife Rebecca.
What are the artifacts, and who has them now?
The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church has for more than 2,000 years collected and stored away an untold number of ancient jeweled crowns, royal ceremonial regalia and vestments, parchments, books, manuscripts, crosses, paintings, Bibles, ecclesiastical uniforms, musical instruments and much more.
Some of the artifacts are currently kept in a tiny, damp “museum” adjacent to the Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion in Axum. Unfortunately, thousands more artifacts are scattered around the country, kept in crumbling monasteries where there are no controlled temperature or protective glass enclosures to keep visitors from touching them.
To cite just one example—archeologists recently discovered in a remote monastery in Adwa, Ethiopia, what they believe to be the world’s first illustrated Bible. This priceless book, which they believe is also the earliest example of bookbinding still attached to the original pages, is more than 1,500 years old and cannot currently be displayed or studied by visitors, scholars or researchers.
Can you tell me more about the Ethiopian Orthodox Church?
The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church (EOTC). ["Tewahedo" means "United."]
The EOTC accepted Christianity as early as 34 A.D. through the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:26-40) and achieved recognition as an episcopate in 330 A.D continuing ever since. It accepted the canon and decision of the first three ecumenical councils, the Nicaea in 325, Constantinople in 381 and Ephesus in 431. Since then it has been serving the Lord in accordance with the Holy Scripture and decisions of these councils and has participated in all activities, meetings and consultations with all of the Holy Apostolic Churches. In general, The EOTC feels it has fulfilled its religious duty in serving as an island of Christianity.
The modern Ecumenical council -- the World Council of Churches (WCC) was instituted in 1948 in Amsterdam. They confess the Lord Jesus Christ as God and Savior according to the scriptures and seek to fulfill their common calling to the glory of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit as one God of which one duty is to "call the churches to the goal of visible unity, and in common life in Christ and to advance towards that unity in order that the world may believe."
The EOTC is a founding member of the WCC and the All Africa Council of Churches (AACC) established in 1948 and 1963 respectively. The EOTC also hosted the first meeting of Oriental Orthodox Churches in 1963, the meeting of Central Committee of the WCC in 1972 and of the Executive Committee in 1989, and hosted the seventh Assembly of the AACC in Addis Ababa. Thus, the Church is striving for strengthening Ecumenism, which in its real sense, means peace, trust, mutual understanding, equality and cooperation within the Christian Churches. Abune Paulos is the present Patriarch and head of the OETC. He is a recognized scholar and peace advocate who has been instrumental in trying to bridge tensions between Ethiopia and Eritrea in Africa.
He received the Nansen Medal by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees and worked hard to find a peaceful solution to the Darfur conflict, observing that an African solution was significant as, "No one loves Africa more than Africans." He received his doctoral degree from Princeton University in 1984 and has served as a member of the central committee of the WCC, its Faith and Order Commission, and is one of the seven current presidents of the WCC.
How are you raising the money?
We are asking every Christian in the world to financially support the museum; all Ethiopian Orthodox Church parishes and members, all denominational leaders, all companies that do business in Ethiopia, all tourism related companies, foundations that have supported causes in Ethiopia and other parts of Africa, individuals with an interest in history, universities, foreign embassies and others.
What is the budget?
The Ark of the Covenant Foundation, the sole fundraising entity for the Axum museum project, is tasked by Abune Paulos with raising $30 million USD.
The money we raise will be used for the completion of the world-class museum, along with a large number of state-of-the-art temperature and humidity-controlled displays, and for the construction of facilities where archeologists and other scholars may study the artifacts.
The foundation will also hire experts to identify, restore and preserve artifacts found in various locations throughout Ethiopia (and the world), and fund the on-going upkeep and maintenance of the museum and its grounds.
Where and how much money has been raised so far?
Through the efforts of leaders within the Ethiopian Orthodox churches in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia’s capitol city), approximately $4 million USD was raised and spent to fund development of the architectural plans and the construction to date.
Abune Paulos is enormously grateful for the support the museum has received from Ethiopians (Members of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, many of whom earn less than $50 USD per month, donated the majority of this first money).
But he realizes he must seek the help of good people around the world to help complete the museum. For that purpose, he has allowed the Ark of the Covenant Foundation to be formed to raise the remainder of the funding.
What is the timeline?
Our goal is to open the museum in January 2014.
What is the current status of the museum?
As of May 2012, the museum is about 20% completed. They have poured the foundation and constructed the ground and first floors of the main building.
Where is the museum located?
The museum is being constructed in Axum, Ethiopia, which many believe is a site of extraordinary historical and religious significance, on par with the Holy Land or the Vatican. As Abune Paulos himself has said, “There is no Ethiopia without Axum.”
The three buildings of the museum are part of a larger compound that includes the most important church in Ethiopia, the Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion.
Twice, non-Christians destroyed this ancient church, the first time in the 10th century, and the second time in the 16th century. It was rebuilt the second time by Emperor Gelawdewos and is still used today in Ethiopian Orthodox services.
Also located in the compound is a newer Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion, which was built in the 1950s by the wife of Haile Selassie, the last Emperor of Ethiopia.
The smallest building in the compound, a nondescript brick chapel less than 100 meters from the museum site, is possibly the most sacred building in the world, housing what Ethiopian Christians believe is the True Ark of the Covenant.
The presence of the Ark and other archeological sites makes Axum one of the most important religious cities in the world, and therefore the most logical place to build a museum containing royal and religious artifacts dating back to a time before Christianity existed.
How big will it be?
There will be about 38,000 square feet of usable space for the display of artifacts, offices, study rooms and more.
What will be housed in the museum?
The process of identifying the exact artifacts to be displayed has not yet begun, but in general the museum will display:
- Imperial uniforms and coronation crowns from more than 200 Ethiopian Kings
- Ornately decorated Bishops’ vestments & mitres
- Sacred symbols, Vade Meca and Bishops’ pectoral crosses
- Musical liturgical instruments and Ecclesiastical liturgical umbrellas
- Centuries-old manuscripts, papyri and rolls of picture canvases
- Ancient weapons
- Rare photographs of Bishops, Emperors, Kings
- Stone tablets inscribed in the ancient Ge’ez language
- Byzantine paintings, tapestries and illustrated bibles
The vast majority of these artifacts have never been seen by anyone outside the leaders of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. The importance of displaying them to the world at large cannot be overstated.
What's the story behind the Ark of the Covenant?
The Holy Ark of the Covenant, also known as the Ark of the Testimony was, according to the Book of Exodus (Ex. 19:20;24;18), constructed according to instructions given to Moses during his 40 day stay upon the mountain. It was to be made of shittim wood for the purpose of housing the Tablets of Stone containing the Ten Commandments received by Moses (Ex. 31) and was to be 2 ½ cubits in length, 1 ½ cubits in width and 1 ½ cubits in height. It was to be plated entirely with gold and a crown or molding of gold around it. Four rings of gold were to be attached—two on each side—that through these rings staves of shittim wood were to be inserted in order to carry the Ark.
After its creation, the Ark was carried by the Israelites during their 40-years of wandering in the desert. Whenever they camped, it was placed in a special and sacred tent called the Tabernacle. After some 300 - 400 years with the Israelites, the Ark, according to 1 Samuel 4:4-11, was taken by the Philistines. The news of its capture was taken by a messenger "with his clothes rent, and with earth upon his head" to the old priest, Eli, who upon hearing the shocking news fell dead.
However, because of untoward afflictions the Philistines suffered, assumedly because of their unauthorized possession of the Ark, they returned the Ark after holding it only 7 months.
During the construction of Solomon's Temple, a special inner room, called the Holy of Holies," was prepared to receive and house the Ark (1 Kings 6:19). When Solomon married Pharaoh's daughter, she had to dwell in a house outside Zion (2:Chron. 8:11). King Josiah had the Ark put in the Temple (2 Chron. 35:3). In 586 B.C. the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem, including Solomon's Temple, and since that event there is no biblical record of what became of the Ark.
The apocryphal book of Esdras suggests that the Babylonians, "… took all the holy vessels of the Lord, both great and small, and the Ark of God, and the king's treasures, and carried them away into Babylon" (1 Esdras 1:54). This is but one of numerous speculations as to what actually happened to the Ark.
Most Americans owe their limited understanding about the Ark of the Covenant to Hollywood. In 1959 there was the film, Solomon and Sheba, and more recently there was Steven Spielberg's fanciful, but exciting, 1981 movie, Raiders of the Lost Ark, with Harrison Ford playing the fictional role of Indiana Jones.
However, of all the speculations about what actually happened to the Holy Ark of the Covenant, the Ethiopian story is probably the most interesting and is based on ancient history. The Ethiopian Church claims to have had it in their possession for almost 3,000 years and, despite the questions of historical accuracy of the 1992 book, The Sign and the Seal: The Quest for the Lost Ark of the Covenant, their claim is also bolstered by the ancient holy book, the Kebra Negast, also known as "The Book of the Glory of the Kings of Ethiopia."
Written copies of the Kebra Negast go back at least to the 12th century and basically recount one story about the Queen of Sheba who reportedly lived in Axum, Ethiopia where she ruled over a rich kingdom, probably geographically much larger than the Ethiopia of today. Other accounts suggest she controlled the Isthmus of Suez and the Red Sea with a navy of more than 700 vessels. It tells of her hearing about a wise king in far away Jerusalem and she decided to make a caravan journey to meet and learn from him.
P. N. Godinho published some traditions about King Solomon and his son Menyelek (or Menelik) in the first quarter of the sixteenth century, presumably based on the Negast. James Bruce (1730 - 1794), an early famous African traveler, received a copy of the Negast as a present from the all powerful Ethiopian king, Takla Haymanot, when he left the city of Gondor. Around 1870 Francis Praetorius published a Latin translation of the book which reveals that the King of Ethiopia was a descendent of Solomon, King of Israel, and Queen Makeda, Empress of Axum, known in the Abrahamic tradition as the Queen of Sheba. Unfortunately, none of the Kebra Negast copies gives any information about the compilation, and it is a compilation, or the circumstances under which it was compiled.
Of course King Solomon becomes aware of the Queen's approach to Jerusalem, but inasmuch as it did not appear to be hostile, he welcomed its arrival and invited the beautiful queen to stay at his palace. To cut to the chase, and using modern vernacular, he promptly tries to seduce her. She refused his advances and curtly advised him that ladies from Abyssinia (Ethiopia) do not believe in having sex outside of marriage.
Solomon wisely points out that he would never force himself upon any woman, but explains that he is so captivated by her beauty that hopes she will at least permit him to sleep in the same room with her. We don't know the exact conversation, but she probably replied something along the lines of, "That's a nutty request, but if it gives your Highness pleasure I will permit it, but we will sleep in separate beds."
Solomon then suggests that if she takes anything from his kingdom she will allow him to sleep with her. The queen points out, "You have seen my great wealth and you know that I have neither need nor desire to take anything from your kingdom, so I agree.
The King then prepares a sumptuous banquet, making sure that his chefs choose spicy dishes with high salt content. Just as he presumed would happen, in the middle of the night the queen awakes with great thirst. Solomon is prepared and offers her a glass of cool water. As soon as she quenches her thirst, the King says, "Aha, my dear, you have just taken something from my kingdom, thus you must fulfill your part of the bargain.
Some nine months later, as the queen and her caravan trudge back towards her palace in Aksum, the queen gives birth to a baby boy whom she names Menelik. He becomes the first of the Menelik royal line which finally ends with Haili Selassie (July 23, 1892 - August 27, 1975) making it the longest royal line in the history of mankind.
As Menelik matures, he often pesters his mother to tell him about his father, to which she always replies, "he is a very wise king who lives in a city far away called Jerusalem," but refuses to take hit to meet his father.
However, in his late teens or early twenties, he takes things into his own hands and arranges with a group of friends to secretly put together a caravan, and off they go to distant Jerusalem.
Again, the king becomes aware of the approaching caravan. But this time, he is told that even it consists of a large group of young men they do not seem to on a military mission. They also observe, "Strangely enough, the young leader is the spitting image of you!" Of course, Solomon puts two and two together and prepares a suitable welcome for his first-born son.
Menelik is thus exposed to the wisdom of his father and spends months under his personal tutelage learning how to govern and, more important to our story, the intricacies of the Hebrew religion. This latter would include the sacredness of the Holy Ark, the many miracles it had performed, and why it was housed with such honor in the Temple's Holy of Holies chamber. Thus, Menelik became well informed concerning the Ark's location and physical dimensions.
When the time finally arrives for Menelik to return to his home in Ethiopia, he concocts with his loyal friends a plan to steal the Ark. They build a box with the same dimensions as the Holy Ark of the Covenant; sneak into the Temple during the night, take the original and replace it with the counterfeit box, cover it with blankets and immediately begin their trek towards home.
In short order their nefarious deed is discovered and reported directly to the king. Solomon is shocked by his son's apparent duplicity and immediately orders the creation of a posse to be composed of armed warriors to travel by horseback. He knows that Menelik's caravan is composed primarily of camels. Thus, he knows his posse can easily, by traveling much faster with horses, can apprehend the culprits within a day or two.
Unable to catch them the first day, the king's posse is forced to give men and horses a night's rest. During the king's sleep, he has a dream; one in which a shaft of light coming from heaven shines down on Jerusalem and then slowly ascends back into the heavens. Then another shaft of light shines down from heaven, but this time it shines to the west of Jerusalem. In the morning the king interprets his own dream to mean that the first beam of light indicates that God first chose the Hebrew people living in Israel to be his chosen race. The second beam of light indicates that God has now shifted His divine favor west to be with Menelik his first-born son.
Thus, Solomon tells the posse that his son's theft of the Holy Ark of the Covenant is in accordance with God's will; thus they are to call off their pursuit and return to Jerusalem without trying to recapture the Ark.
This is explanation that the Ethiopian Orthodox Christian Church, and every true son of Ethiopia, believes how the true Holy Ark of the Covenant came to Ethiopia.
What need is met by this project?
First and foremost, the museum is good for the Ethiopians themselves—the millions of adults and children who have never learned about their own heritage—who know very little of what was accomplished by their forefathers or of Ethiopia’s significant role in world history. For them the museum will be a source of great national pride—a place to learn about and appreciate the arts, the languages, the tools and the civilizations of their country.
Secondly, for the people of Axum specifically and for Ethiopians in general it will be a tremendous boost to the economy and their quality of life. Hundreds of jobs will be created at the museum and in supporting industries such as hospitality, food service, travel, retail shops and more. Lastly, historical and religious scholars will finally have an opportunity to study and learn from the thousands of artifacts, scrolls, ancient texts and other never-before-revealed items.
There is no telling what will be learned over the next several decades by the treasures displayed in the Axum museum.
Who is on the team working on the museum?
- Claudio Baldisserri (Chief Architect)
- Lorenzo Sarti (Engineer)
- Silvio D’Amore (Architect)
- Alessandro De Laurentiis (Engineer)
- Stefania Bulzoni (Architect)
- Samantha Cicognani (Architect)
- Ottavia Sarti (Architect)
- Giovanna Saracino (Architect)
- Luisa Saracino (Architect)
- Valentina Salcuni (Architect)
- Simone Magagna (Architect) Structural Design
- Francesco Ricci (Engineer)
- Mario De Lorenzi (Engineer)
- Sergio Marchetti (Engineer) Electrical System Design
- Ivan Domenico Ceccaroni (Engineer)
- Gianni Baldi (P.I.)
- Ivan Cedrini (P.I.) Hydraulic and Mechanical System Design
- Paolo Contessi (Engineer)
- Gloria Viroli (Geom)
Materials and works computation
- Domenico D’Antuono (Geom)
How can I donate?
You can make a tax-deductible donation here on the website using your credit card or Paypal account. Just click on the PayPal button at the top of this page or click here.
If you prefer, you can send a check or money order to:
The Ark of the Covenant Foundation
17800 Bolger Rd., 344-A
Independence, MO 64055
You will receive a receipt in return mail. Thank you!