Monday, November 02, 2009

New Idiana Jones style fable or genuine story by Tudor Parfitt ?

"The Lost Ark of the Covenant" by Tudor Parfitt is a controversial book. The very selection of the theme, the quest for traces of Lost Ark of Covenant, the most sacred physical object in the entire biblical narrative - is controversial by itself.

No wonder, after Indiana Jones or Paul's Sussman "The Last Secret of the Temple" it is hard to write about the Ark without falling or into scholarly-historic-archeological style or into a kind of Indiana Jones thriller. When you read it however, you find both notes — sometimes the melody is like it was to accompany Indiana Jones — sometime you hear a song of true scholar...

The book describes the author's life-long quest for the biblical Lost Ark of Covenant. However, unlike the many other quests, Parfitt, from the very beginning shows his preference for the hypothesis of African trail of the Ark. And for good. He is a very well known advocate of the theory that assumes that the African tribe of Lemba, where a Judaic trend is not only clearly visible, but was also confirmed by 1996 genetic studies, was directly responsible for preservation of the Ark.

The book becomes a real page turner when it describes apparently futile, long adventurous and dangerous trip through Yemen and later, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Ethiopia. In another chapter he goes after the Judaic trails in Papua, New Guinea. This episode, however, portraying a tribe that only recently revoked cannibalism, goes too far toward "Indiana Jones" melody...

However, in other parts, particularly those devoted to the Ark itself, called ngoma lungundu by Lemba people he writes in a very good scholarly but not entirely dull, tone. The Ark, according to Parfitt was in fact ... a drum, a horrifying musical instrument and the ancient weapon of mass destruction.

The book concludes when after long and desperate search he finally identifies ngoma lungundu in a dusty, mice-ridden storeroom of the Harare Museum of Human Science in Zimbabwe. The carbon dating finds the drum comes from XIV century, but despite the date itself - Parfitt claims it was replica of the original Ark.

However controversial or fantastic Parfitt claims is - the conclusion of the book is nice to read. There are no fanfares, no pseudo-religious boosting - there is just a moldy drum, sitting in a dusty museum storeroom, which author believes IS the true Ark's duplicate made in XIV century...

For many, this conclusion may be fantastic, stupid or, at least — non-biblical, but the finale of the book shows some decency and truth seeking attitude of the author. No stupid Indiana Jones tones any more...

Good, recommended book !!!

See its good review in Time.

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