The Lost Ark is Still Lost — But Now We Know Where It’s Been! -- By: Gary A. Byers

Journal: Bible and Spade (Second Run)
Volume: BSPADE 09:2 (Spring 1996)
Article: The Lost Ark is Still Lost — But Now We Know Where It’s Been!
Author: Gary A. Byers


The Lost Ark is Still Lost — But Now We Know Where It’s Been!

Gary A. Byers

Where is the lost Ark of the Covenant? There are numerous theories and, occasionally, even claims. Unfortunately, nothing substantial has ever been produced demonstrating the Ark’s present whereabouts. Yet, while we still do not know where it is today, a scholar has now pinpointed the exact spot where it once stood.

A popular topic since release of the box office hit movie “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” scholars continue to provide new insights into the history of this ancient relic. In the January/February 1996 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review, Leen Ritmeyer marshalled textual, historical and archaeological evidence to suggest the exact spot where the Ark of the Covenant rested in the Temple in ancient Jerusalem.

Few are better qualified to make such a claim. The most recognized archaeological architect in Biblical archaeology, Ritmeyer’s reconstructions of Herod’s Jerusalem are widely accepted as the most authoritative. He has worked with a number of excavations in Jerusalem and written numerous articles on archaeological remains in the Holy City.

Three years ago, in the March/April 1992 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review, Ritmeyer presented evidence demonstrating three stages in the development of the ancient Jewish Temple Mount. He reconstructed the original Temple Mount of Solomon and the Second Temple Mount’s Hasmonean addition and Herodian expansion.

Although the Temple Mount came under Israeli control in 1967, Israeli government officials returned authority to the Wakf, the Supreme Moslem Council. The Wakf, while constantly making renovations on the Mount, has been unwilling to allow any archaeological excavations. This is at least partially due to their desire to keep any evidence of an ancient Jewish Temple from being found on their holy site.

Consequently, absolute proof of Ritmeyer’s proposal is not available. However, his utilization of the available historical resources and his numerous personal examinations of the site offer the most authoritative proposal of the evidence.

Now, after clarifying the historical Temple Mount, Ritmeyer turned his efforts to determining the exact location of the First and Second Temple structures on the Mount. His research confirmed the traditional view that

the ancient Jewish Temple once sat directly above the famous Rock (es-Sakhra; Arabic for “rock”) beneath the Moslem shrine, the Dome of the Rock.

In addition to reconstructing the ...

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