The Sign and the SealArk of the CovenantTHE SIGN AND THE SEAL
by Graham Hancock It was growing dark and the air of the Ethiopian highlands was chill when themonk appeared. Stooped and leaning on a prayer stick he shuffled towards mefrom the doorway of the sanctuary chapel and listened attentively as I wasintroduced to him. Speaking in Tigrigna, the local language, he then soughtclarification through my interpreter about my character and my motives: fromwhich country had I come, what work did I do there, was I a Christian, what was itthat I wanted from him?
I answered each of these questions fully, squinting through the gloom as Italked, trying to make out the details of my inquisitor's face. Milkycataracts veiled his small sunken eyes and deep lines furrowed his blackskin. He was bearded and probably toothless - for although his voice wasresonant it was also oddly slurred. All I could be sure of, however, was thathe was an old man, as old as the century perhaps, that he had his witsabout him, and that he did not seem to be seeking information about meout of idle curiosity. Only when he was satisfied with everything that I hadsaid did he condescend to shake hands with me. His grip was dry anddelicate as papyrus and from the thick robes that he wore, faint butunmistakable, arose the holy odour of frankincense.Now that the formalities were over I got straight to the point. Gesturing inthe direction of the building that loomed in shadowy outline behind us, Isaid: 'I have heard of an Ethiopian tradition that the Ark of the Covenant is
Page 1 of 52