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Customer Review

on January 3, 2001
"Hey, Indy I've found something", Oh, wait, that's a line from the movie 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' isn't it? and 'The Sign & the Seal' is a serious historical, archaelogical account of the search for, and supposed discovery of the biblical Ark of the Covenant. Yes, one is fantasy and the other non-fiction, although after reading some parts of the book, don't be surprised if you find yourself flipping to the backcover to check on the publishing category. For your reference it's 'history/religion/archaeology'
That the book reads like a great adventure novel makes it enjoyable. That it purports to have solved the mystery of not only what happened to the Ark, but also that Hancock says that he knows where it is, makes this a book that deserves serious attention. The author spent considerable time researching this subject and his quest took him to Jerusalem, Egypt, the Chartres Cathedral in France and finally Ethiopia. He read widely and interviewed many people and discusses a wide variety of topics. The Kebra Nagast (the ancient Ethiopian history of the Queen of Sheba), the Templars, the Holy Grail, the biblical story of Solomon and the Babylonian Exile of the Jews all have some bearing on the wherabouts of the Ark. Hancock weaves it all together with style.
Research, genuine interest, enthusiasm and writing style however are insufficient in overcoming the critical flaw of the book. Unlike a movie which can end however it chooses, an investigative history book must prove it's thesis. Hancock neatly dodges producing proof by telling us that the guardian of the Ark won't let anyone see it. In recalling the conversation Hancock remembers saying 'this is a great disappointment for me', to which the guardian philosophically replied 'there are worse things in life than disappointment', to which I say, there are many movies that could use good endings like this but a history book should not be allowed to get away with it.
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