Russian Explorer Claims Unusual Access to the Ark of the Covenant in Ethiopia

Above: Russian traveler Fyodor Konyukhov has become the
latest person to make a claim about viewing the relic (VOR).

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Thursday, August 26, 2010

New York (Tadias) – The Voice of Russia is reporting that celebrity explorer and ordained Orthodox deacon Fyodor Konyukhov has been given the unusual access to view the Ark of the Covenant in Ethiopia.

According to the radio station’s website, the world-famous traveler went to Ethiopia to work on an officially sanctioned project of producing a map with new tourist routes to Ethiopia’s historical sites. The Voice of Russia announced that he is now “the first European to see the Ark of the Covenant where the stone tablets with the Ten Commandments communicated to Moses by God on Mount Sinai are believed to have been put.” Corroboration from the Ethiopian side has not been cited.

“I did not expect it, but the Ethiopians showed me the Arc of the Covenant,” Fyodor Konyukhov told VOR. “It was four o’clock, and I was with priests at the service. I was standing near the keeper of the relic and I looked into his eyes. I have never seen such a person. Light was emitting from his eyes. He could not talk to me, because priests do not talk during Lent. The Arc of the Covenant was taken out and it was shown to me. An Ethiopian operator was at the scene and filmed the event,” he said.

According to Professor Ayele Bekerie of Cornell University, who penned a recent article on the subject for Tadias Magazine, the biblical relic, which is a central tenet of the Ethiopian Orthodox Christian faith, has been a source of puzzlement and speculation by generations of foreign travelers and researchers alike. “The Ark of the Covenant may have been a source of mystery and curiosity, but for Ethiopian Christians, it is the rock of their faith,” wrote Bekerie. “There have been countless conjectures regarding the Ark’s fate and final resting place, but the Ethiopian Christians locate the Ark or what they call Tabot at the center of their faith…while the rest of the world sees it, at best, as a source of inspiration to write mystery novels, construct countless theories or make adventurous films, the Ethiopians believe that the Ark of the Covenant was brought to Ethiopia from Jerusalem with the return of Menelik I after his famous visit with his father, King Solomon.’”

Meanwhile, The Voice of Russia says the explorer has also been granted permission to build a Russian Orthodox church in Addis Ababa, which will be named St. George chapel. “We met with the builders and Ethiopian workers. Our embassy helped us. I hope to install a cross at the site before I leave for the expedition in February,” Konyukhov said.

You may read the original story at The Voice of Russia.

Cover Image: Fyodor Konyukhov (RIA Novosti)

Related article from Tadias archives:
The Not-So-Lost Ark of the Covenant

Related video:
Ethiopia – Keepers of the Lost Ark (David Adams Films)

Digging for the Truth: History Channel documentary television series about the Ark

28 Responses to “Russian Explorer Claims Unusual Access to the Ark of the Covenant in Ethiopia”


  1. 1 Ayele Bekerie Aug 26th, 2010 at 7:07 pm

    Dear Tadias,

    ‘Deacon’ Fyodor Konyukhov is an impostor. If he is a true believer, he would not have asked to ‘see’ the Arc. Moreover, he is making a claim of an act that cannot be allowed, under no circumstances, within the context of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church. It is also a claim that is not corrobrated by the Church. This is not the first time that foreign adventurers have sought fame at the expense of the faithful.

  2. 2 Hannibal Aug 26th, 2010 at 7:08 pm

    Emperor Minilik deployed the Arc of the Covenant to beat the heck out of the invading Italian army at the battle of Adawa. That is what my great great grand father who was a high priest told my grand father. Axum, where the Arc is currently located, is near Adawa.

  3. 3 Mekonen Wolde (L.A) Aug 26th, 2010 at 9:32 pm

    This is a PR stunt by attention lover Fyodor Konyukhov because Ethiopians know that it can not happen. Impossible under any circumstances. Big BS!!

  4. 4 Lev Vissarionovich Aug 27th, 2010 at 2:11 am

    Yes, he is a deacon approved properly by the Russian Ortodox Church. He is getting ready for his African expedition with the blessings of the head of the Russian Orthodox Church Kyrill. I believe him.

  5. 5 washeraw Aug 27th, 2010 at 3:02 am

    Absolute crap! Even the patriarch is not allowed to enter that sanctum. And the man would have been torn to pieces by the people of Axum before he could shout “mother!”

  6. 6 Dallas Aug 27th, 2010 at 5:58 am

    I can’t believe this guy calls himself a deacon, and yet he spreads his false claim through the mass media. Shame on him.

  7. 7 Haymi Aug 27th, 2010 at 10:08 am

    The Ark of Covenant is in Ethiopia is what they say. But that’s something that is highly doubtful in itself.!

  8. 8 Gobena Aug 27th, 2010 at 10:15 am

    Please people, don’t be so hypersensitive. I don’t think he is telling a lie at all. It is highly unlikely that he has actually witnessed the actual Tabot. But he saw something. He was somewhere very close. It was filmed. As far as I am concerned, he just earned his pay check from the Ethiopian Tourism Commission or whoever hired him to do a tourist-route map. He gave it a FREE and huge publicity that money can’t buy. Or if it does, it would have cost arms and legs. The point is someone correctly said that it is a PR stunt. I think, Ethiopia should issues a vague denial that raises more questions than answers to keep the story going a bit longer. My two cents on the matter.

  9. 9 lal Aug 27th, 2010 at 10:52 am

    This guy is totally a wanna be Indiana Jones. Even Abune Paulos is not allowed to see it. He said it himself…”Can you believe that even though I’m head of the Ethiopian church, I’m still forbidden from seeing it?”. Check the article @ http://www.smithsonianmag.com/people-places/ark-covenant-200712.html

  10. 10 Shiferaw Aug 27th, 2010 at 10:57 am

    http://en.rian.ru/russia/20100522/159118533.html
    This guy is just a traumatized adventurer, not even a learned priest.
    He wouldn’t tell the difference between an Ark and any other object.
    So, why bother?

  11. 11 The Farenj Aug 27th, 2010 at 10:57 am

    Why did he say “Lent,” did this happen months ago? Why report it now? Perhaps he meant “fast”, as the Dormition of Mary was just a few days ago. It seems strange that an ordained deacon would confuse Lent with another fast, but perhaps it was a translation issue.

  12. 12 NUBIA Aug 27th, 2010 at 11:27 am

    well i belive they showed him the replica not the REAL one, come on ppl even the high preist can’t get in there let alone the local priest,may be because of the high volume call to see the ARC they might show him the regular replica.

  13. 13 Rahel Alemu Aug 27th, 2010 at 2:09 pm

    I have my own reservations and it is not about Fyodor Konyukhov. Abuna Paulos had said the Ark will be revealed. He told an Italian media something to that effect. Something outside of tradition. If you don’t belive me, check out the following YouTube video and you be the judge. Hope you understand Italian. My conclusion is that this is possible. Egziabher gena bizu neger yasayenal.: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9E9m6_EdxBg

  14. 14 S.D. Aug 27th, 2010 at 3:57 pm

    Much Ado About Nothing! The Ark of the covenant is in Jerusalem at Solomon’s Temple, where due to the extreme political sensitivity of the site, few archaeological excavations have been conducted on the Temple Mount itself. According to Wiki: to date, no archaeological evidence for Solomon’s Temple has been found and the only references to the First Temple in Jerusalem that might be contemporary with its supposed existence is contained in the Hebrew Bible.

    But most importantly, two Israeli religious leaders and researchers had discovered an object that appeared to fit the biblical description of the Ark of the Covenant in one of the underground rooms found amid complex tunnels. However, before they could retrieve the object, the authorities intervened and sealed the underground room to prevent an imminent religious war, participially between Jews and Muslims.

    The Ethiopian claim can easily be dismissed as totally bogus and unscientific. It is completely based on oral tradition. In layman’s legal term, it is based on heresay, a statement made out of court that is offered in court as evidence to prove the truth of the matter asserted. Judges generally prohibit such evidence, unless it can be put under serious cross examination. The Ethiopian argument would not pass this cross examination because it fails short of internationally accepted scientific standards. Prove it, if you have it! Until then, scientific evidence leads us elsewhere.

  15. 15 Mack Hall Aug 27th, 2010 at 7:38 pm

    Just three words: WAUGH IN ABYSSINA.

  16. 16 Sisay Aug 27th, 2010 at 10:32 pm

    “A wanna be Indiana Jones” is the perfect description I have heard thus far of Fyodor Konyukhov’s latest exploits “at the expense of the faithful”, as has been mentioned here correctly. As any of the well respected international experts of Ethiopian antiquity will tell you, what the guy said to The Voice of Russia is a total “Bull Puckey”.

    To just put things in perspective for those who don’t know Ethiopia well, the Ark is completely revered in the country. You should read “The Sign and the Seal” by journalist and travel writer Graham Hancock. In one interesting scene, he describes a fascinating conversation he had with a government official in the late 80′s about Axum when the communists were in the verge of losing the region to the rebels (now government). I don’t have the book in front of me at the moment so I am speaking from memory. The author asks the official if he is worried that the rebels might attack the church. The official gives him this look of all-knowing that it will not happen. He is not even worried about that. The author follows up with another question suggesting why wouldn’t the Derg consider moving the Ark from the war zone? The official gives quick answer, “I think we will have a revolution on our hand that we can’t put down.” That should give you an idea of how the ark is respected across the board. No one is above it. Period.

    The story goes, when King Menilk I, King Solomon’s Ethiopian Son, brought the Ark from Jerusalem, he was not even aware of it at the begining. They were already nearly half way to Ethiopia when he was told that The Israelites have brought with them the Ark. His response: “If the Ark did not choose to come, she would not have come.” So she is in Ethiopia by her own choosing. After all, it represents God. Does it not? Who can keep God where it does not want to be?

  17. 17 seifu mekuria Aug 28th, 2010 at 12:45 am

    Much ado about nothing.

  18. 18 SAM Aug 28th, 2010 at 5:35 am

    Is it a big deal? I don’t think so there is so many things to talk about like our country five year development and transformation plan which is very important and crutial point for poor people like us and our country stop yelling “BEKENTU” talk usefull things.

  19. 19 Maheer Aug 28th, 2010 at 6:24 am

    Since when is scientific evidence required for religion, Mr. SD? Why would you require it of Ethiopia? Because they may have what you don’t? Why does every tiny positive/important thing that happens in Africa require absolute physical evidence whereas legends/myths are okay for Europe and others? My friend, faith is “hearsay”: you hear whatever you believe in from people you accept as messengers of God, which what Moses did (Abraham, Jesus, etc as well).

  20. 20 Sharon Aug 28th, 2010 at 12:19 pm

    I do not believe the Arc is anywhere on this earth for the simple reason Revelation speaks of the Arc being in heaven, NOT on this earth.

  21. 21 Fikre Aug 28th, 2010 at 12:33 pm

    Question for Sam: What are you mobilizing for five year something like communist Albenia? How can you have true economic development without ligit election?

  22. 22 tadios Aug 29th, 2010 at 1:05 am

    Let stop talking about things that are not more important than Jesus, which is true ark. The time when we have to believe on the man-made ark of covenant has passed. If it is found, well then, it has great value in giving evidence for the bible, which is true word of God. But as I said, more important we should focus on what we have to…

  23. 23 jack Aug 31st, 2010 at 6:45 pm

    maybe he saw it in his dream, because he has been thinking about it right from siberia

  24. 24 abebech Sep 2nd, 2010 at 1:21 am

    Religious people are amazing in their rejection of facts and science. When you consider that humans created God, the whole idea of religion crumbles. Einestien’s E= MCsquared, Darwin’s finding of our evolving from the simplest to the complex are things a religious mind rejects. Instead, faith, belief, supernaturals, the Ark, etc., prevail in that religious mind.

    Yes I agree that it’s much ado about nothing.

  25. 25 Baba Sep 2nd, 2010 at 11:18 am

    Abebech:

    Come again? What you said makes no sense.

    Baba

  26. 26 Ethiopianchurch blog Sep 2nd, 2010 at 12:30 pm

    The Sickle & the Cross
    To Ethiopian ears the name Filippovich will sound familiar. Did not the Spirit of Christ prompt Philip the Evangelist to “Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza” and once there, to approach the chariot of the Ethiopian dignitary on his way back from worshipping in Jerusalem? And did not Philip then explain that the reference in Esaias [53] to One “led like a sheep to the slaughter” was in fact the same Jesus who hung on a cross outside the gates of Jerusalem for salvation of humankind? [Has the Ethiopian been to Jerusalem and back for nothing then?] And finally understanding the message of what he was reading did not His Excellency profess his faith in Jesus and request water baptism there and then? And because of all this did he not go “on his way rejoicing”?

    How come Philip of old now has a different name? Read more at
    Ethiopianchurch blog

  27. 27 Mark Zandberg Sep 30th, 2010 at 12:56 pm

    The ark was not viewed by this guy. He saw the “arc” of the covenant which is made out of cheese and kept in a refrigerated room at a hotel in Moyale.

  28. 28 Gerry Cannon Jan 9th, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    How can anyone say for certain that they have seen THE Ark of the Covenant without having it authenticated.

    I have been searching for the Ark for the past 18 years and according to my research I have traced it,or an ancient copy, to a cave in Egypt’s desert.

    However when a gold box that fits the description of the Ark mentioned in Exodus is found then the acacia wood of the box would have to be radio carbon dated to determine when the tree was cut down.

    Most likely there were many copies and I presume the one in Ethiopia is one of them. If they do possess THE ark and if they dont want it to be seen then at least have a sample of the wood examined!

    If anyone wants to contact me then feel free to e mail me at arkquest2002@yahoo.com

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