Israel Finkelstein, a professor at Tel Aviv University and the man in charge of an archaeological dig at the Israeli town of Kiryat Ye’arim, revealed that that area could be the resting place of the mythical Ark of the Covenant.

As Finkelstein explained, Kiryat Ye’arim is likely the Kirjathjearim of legend where the Ark was returned after being captured by the Philistines, with several factors pointing toward this possibility.

“It fits the detailed description in Joshua of the border between the tribes of Benjamin and Judah. There is no other site to fit this description. In Byzantine times, the historian Eusebius said that Kirjathjearim was nine or 10 miles west of Jerusalem, which this site is,” he said as quoted by The Sun. “Also the name of the hill in Arabic – Deir el-Azar – preserves the name of the Byzantine monastery: the Monastery of Elazar. According to the Book of Samuel, Elazar was the priest in charge of the Ark”.

The professor also remarked that his team is not “searching for the Ark” per se but rather seeks to “understand the Ark Narrative: who composed it, when and why”.

He noted that Kirjathjearim straddled the border between the kingdoms of Israel and Judah, and was likely used by the former to control the latter. Hence, Finkelstein postulated, the Ark story was likely created in order to give Kirjathjearim religious legitimacy as an administrative center.

“The biblical narrative probably comes from the Northern Kingdom (Israel) and was seemingly composed in the first half of the 8th century BC. It probably served the ideological goals of the kingdom at the time, perhaps also its territorial aspirations, namely control over Judah,” he said.

The Ark of the Covenant, also known as the Ark of the Testimony, is a gold-covered wooden chest with lid cover described in the Book of Exodus as containing the two stone tablets of the Ten Commandments. According to various texts within the Hebrew Bible, it also contained Aaron’s rod and a pot of manna.

In December, the US-based Bible Archaeology Search and Exploration Institute (BASE) also declared that its scholars have allegedly pinpointed the location of a legendary Biblical relic known as the Ark of the Covenant, claiming that the relic is resting at the Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion in Axum.