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New mission of real-life raiders of the lost Ark

Harrison Ford, right, portrays Indiana Jones carrying the Ark of the Covenant in 1981’s “Raiders of the Lost Ark.”

An international team of archaeologists has announced plans to search an area the Bible says once stored the Ark of the Covenant.

On the highest hills in west Jerusalem, Kiriath-Jearim is mentioned in the Bible as a resting place of the Ark of the Covenant, a gold-gilded wooden chest from the Book of Exodus that contained tablets inscribed with the Ten Commandments.

The project is a joint venture of Tel Aviv University and Collège de France to be directed by Israel Finkelstein, Christophe Nicolle and Thomas Römer.

In 1905, a farmer discovered remnants of a Byzantine place of worship on the hill. This summer, archaeologists will climb the mound to search for new information regarding passages from the Hebrew Bible.

Kiriath-Jearim in Israel

The dig organizers say their objective is to unearth any other buried mysteries at the largely unexplored site.

“The excavation will also make it possible to determine if there existed in the Judean mountains … a temple dedicated to the god Baal,” a Collège de France statement said. “In addition, the search will provide a better understanding of the historical background of important biblical passages, including those related to the Ark of the Covenant.”

The Ark of the Covenant was constructed by Moses at the behest of God and accompanied the Israelites during their 40 years of exile in the desert.

Excavation at the site is due to take place between August and September.

“The place is important for several reasons,” Finkelstein said. “It’s a large, central site in the Jerusalem hills that hasn’t been studied until now. It may be the only key site in Judah that hasn’t undergone a systematic archaeological excavation.”

In the First Book of Samuel, the ark brought curses, plagues and suffering to the Philistines. Its terrifying metaphysical powers have been adopted by Hollywood filmmakers such as Steven Spielberg and Cecil B. DeMille.

The worst case of hemorrhoids in history is found in the Bible in connection with the Ark of the Covenant. Learn details in the best-selling book that promotes the truth of God. Get your autographed copy of “Shocked by the Bible”

Spielberg’s 1981 “Raiders of the Lost Ark” saw the sacred covenant become the object of a race against time between fictional archaeologist Indiana Jones and Nazi antagonists.

The biblical town of Kiriath-Jearim (Cariathiarim) is strategically located on one of the highest hills in Judea, 10 miles west of Jerusalem, just west of Abu Gosh. The name of Kiriath Jearim means in Hebrew “the city of forests.” Its Arabic name is Deir el-Azar and could come from a reference to Eleazar, who, according to 1 Samuel 7:1-2, took charge of the Ark of the Covenant when it was brought to Kiriath-Jearim: “And the men of Kirjathjearim came, and fetched up the ark of the Lord, and brought it into the house of Abinadab in the hill, and sanctified Eleazar his son to keep the ark of the Lord. And it came to pass, while the ark abode in Kirjathjearim, that the time was long; for it was twenty years: and all the house of Israel lamented after the Lord.”

The site is mentioned several times in the Bible, notably as the place of the temporary deposit of the Ark of the Covenant and as a frontier town between the tribes of Judah and Benjamin.

The first book of Samuel (Chapters 4-6) relates in particular that the Ark of the Covenant had been taken by the Philistines after the defeat of Israel at the battle of Eben-Ezer. The presence of the sacred object, however, caused curses in the territory of the Philistines, notably acute hemorrhoids, which forced them to return it to Israel. It was then that the Ark was placed in Abinadab’s house at Kiriath-Jearim, and it was only decades later that David would have it brought to Jerusalem.

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