Archaeologists find Queen of Sheba's palace at Axum, Ethiopia

Archaeologists believe they have found the Queen of Sheba's palace at Axum, Ethiopia and an altar which held the most precious treasure of ancient Judaism, the Ark of the Covenant, the University of Hamburg said Wednesday, the dpa reported.

Scientists from the German city made the startling find during their spring excavation of the site over the past three months.

The Ethiopian queen was the bride of King Solomon of Israel in the 10th century before the Christian era. The royal match is among the memorable events in the Bible.

Ethiopian tradition claims the Ark, which allegedly contained Moses' stone tablets on which the Ten Commandments were written, was smuggled to Ethiopia by their son Menelek and is still in that country.

The University said scientists led by Helmut Ziegert had found remains of a 10th-century-BC palace at Axum-Dungur under the palace of a later Christian king. There was evidence the early palace had been torn down and realigned to the path of the star Sirius.

The team hypothesized that Menelek had changed religion and become a worshipper of Sirius while keeping the Ark, described in the Bible as an acacia-wood chest covered with gold. Remains of sacrifices of bullocks were evident around the altar.

The research at Axum, which began in 1999, is aimed at documenting the origins of the Ethiopian state and the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

"The results we have suggest that a Cult of Sothis developed in Ethiopia with the arrival of Judaism and the Ark of the Covenant and continued until 600 AD," the announcement said. Sothis is the ancient Greek name for a star thought to be Sirius.

The team said evidence for this included Sirius symbols at the site, the debris of sacrifices and the alignment of sacred buildings to the rising-point of Sirius, the brightest star in the sky.

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