Raiders of the Hidden Ark: The Story of the Parker Expedition to Jerusalem

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Edgcumbe Press, Aug 10, 2021 - 298 pages

Where is the Ark of the Covenant? One of the Bible's most sacred and powerful objects has not been seen for over 2,500 years. The missing Ark has inspired many quests and even a famous film.

Perhaps the most remarkable of the quests to find the Ark is the Parker expedition. Its story seems stranger than fiction and includes aristocrats, poets, psychics, secret cyphers in the Bible, a deadly curse, bribery, gun-running, riots, and madness. It sounds unbelievable but the Parker expedition is real. Rudyard Kipling, who knew several expedition members, wrote 'Talk of fiction! Fiction isn't in it'.

In 1908, a Finnish scholar convinced a group of young Englishmen from wealthy and titled families he had uncovered secret cyphers in the Bible showing where the Ark was hidden. They were educated at Eton, had fought in elite units of the British military and socialised with European royalty and wealthy Americans. One had thwarted an assassination attempt on Queen Victoria. Another had helped spark the Boer War. Most of the funding came from the family of one of the richest men to have ever lived in Australia. With them were a Swiss psychic, a Finnish poet, and a Swedish captain who had experienced the darkest heart of colonial madness in the Belgian Congo. They headed for Jerusalem on a private yacht to dig for the Ark.

They spent a fortune and in the course of their years searching for the Ark they unwittingly 'scattered sparks in the religious tinder-heap' that is Jerusalem. The expedition still has echoes today. They caused riots and disorder resulting in a parliamentary enquiry and headlines around the world:

  • 'Have Englishmen Found the Ark of the Covenant?' - New York Times 7th May 1911
  • 'Englishmen Are Said To Have Looted the Sacred Mosque at Jerusalem' - Chicago Tribune 4th May 1911
  • 'Treasure Trove in Jerusalem, Alleged Profanation of a Famous Mosque, Moslem Alarm' - Daily Express 4th May 1911
  • 'Theft of Relics in the Jerusalem Mosque of Omar' - Vossische Zeitung 2nd May 1911
  • 'The Parker expedition, Excitement in Jerusalem, Allegations against the explorers' - Sydney Morning Herald 6th May 1911

The story has never been told in full in English before. Graham Addison has uncovered many new details during his research. He skilfully weaves these together in the amazing story of the individuals who in 1909 sailed on a private yacht bound for Jerusalem to retrieve the Ark. He examines who the adventurers were, why they went, what really happened while they were in Jerusalem and what happened to them afterwards.

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