Raiders of the Hidden Ark

The story of the Parker expedition to Jerusalem

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Pub Date 23 Aug 2021 | Archive Date 26 Aug 2021

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The mystery surrounding the Ark of the Covenant’s location is among the world’s greatest and most enduring. 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 rich Americans. One had thwarted an assassination attempt on Queen Victoria, another had helped spark the Boer War, and most of the funding came from the family of one of the richest men to have ever lived in Australia. They headed for Jerusalem on a private yacht to dig for the Ark. 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.

During the course of their years of digging for the Ark the Parker expedition unwittingly ‘scattered sparks in the religious tinder-heap’ that is Jerusalem. Its impact still has echoes today. They caused riots and disorder resulting in headlines around the world and a parliamentary enquiry:

‘* 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

Previously untold in English in its entirety, Graham Addison has uncovered many new details during his research. He skilfully weaves these together in the amazing story of the individuals who sailed on a private yacht bound for Jerusalem in 1909 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.

The mystery surrounding the Ark of the Covenant’s location is among the world’s greatest and most enduring. One of the Bible’s most sacred and powerful objects has not been seen for over 2,500 years...

Advance Praise

"‘This is the story of a remarkable adventure, exciting, harrowing, beautifully written and thoroughly researched. Graham Addison displays not only an acute understanding of period and location but also of the levels of society in which his fascinatingly complex characters were part. His account of this extraordinary undertaking, and for many its tragic aftermath, is a truly impressive undertaking.’ Lady Selina Hastings, author

‘The most complete account of the Parker expedition I have read. It brings to light many new aspects of the expedition.' – Professor Ronny Reich, Emeritus Professor of Archaeology, University of Haifa and Excavator of the City of David (1995-2010)

'This book provides a fascinating look at the story of Captain Montagu Parker's treasure hunt in Jerusalem, one of the surprising and unexpected outcomes of which is how Arab Muslims and Christians united to defend the Holy Compound revealing an early sense of Palestinian patriotism.'

Louis Fishman, Associate Professor at Brooklyn College, City University of New York"

"‘This is the story of a remarkable adventure, exciting, harrowing, beautifully written and thoroughly researched. Graham Addison displays not only an acute understanding of period and location but...

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Featured Reviews

Author Graham Addison describes his story as “Downton Abbey meets Indiana Jones meets Dan Brown”, a rollicking tale of derring-do which was more a case of “derring-didn’t”. Five Old Estonians, led by the Honourable Montsgue Parker, journeyed to the Holy Land in search of the Ark of the Covenant, based only on the word of a Swedish (or possibly Danish) scholar who claimed to have discovered a cypher that enabled him to “decode” secret messages in the Bible which would lead to the Ark’s hidden location. Addison examines the lives of each of the members, before and after the various expeditions, most of whom came from privileged Etonian backgrounds and craved adventure, and who were described as having “more money than brains”. Initially welcomed in Jerusalem as they began their excavations, their decision to undertake secret digging on the second expedition near the Dome of the Rock led to rioting and investigations into their activities, which they avoided via a hasty retreat on their yacht. Unwittingly, the unrest triggered a new sense of Palestinian nationalism, the legacy of which still ensures today. The first English-language version of the story to see print, this book has been meticulously researched and contains many original photographs of the dig and the dilettante archaeologists themselves. It is accessible and in some parts very funny.

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4914 kb 3 and 1 / 2 stars Mr. Addison does a good job of including a great deal of history to background the team searching for the Ark of the Covenant. Some of the histories surrounding the “adventurers” were very interesting. He also discusses the prevailing attitude of the average wealthier, white citizens of the world to the natives of newly discovered, or conquered countries. Ah, Empire! The differences and problems associated with the expedition are discussed as well. Whether it was personalities or someone’s drinking, or harassing the local women and girls, Mr. Addison has it covered. At the same time. I thought the book could have been shorter. There is an awful lot of filler. While I found some of it interesting, it seemed unnecessary. It is written in a rather dry style. Still, I enjoyed learning about it. I always enjoy learning new things. I want to thank NetGalley and BooksGoSocial for forwarding to me a copy of this interesting book for me to read, enjoy and review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

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This is absolutely the best, most detailed book I have read on this subject! I would give it more than 5 stars if I could. Definitely a fan, and I have already recommended the book to my husband and my friends. The author gives a lot of background about the era, the wars, and the relationships between the people involved. In doing so he completes detailed profiles of the various expedition members as well as delving into the backgrounds of government officials and conditions in the Ottoman Empire and Palestine. The religious portrait of Jerusalem reveals a far more complex and cosmopolitan city than one would believe existed at that time. There is also a review of the exploration accomplished by Sir Charles Warren in his time in Palestine, the forerunner to the Parker Expedition upon which this book is centered. There are photos of individuals important to the expedition as well as reproductions of maps from the tunneling around Jerusalem. All of this information was like a firehose of historical facts that allowed you to be completely informed of the import of this undertaking. The author pulled all of these factual threads into one cohesive narrative that was absolutely fascinating. The writing was clear and concise, and the narrative moved along at a good clip. By the time I finished, I felt that I had a very deep understanding of the time, place, and circumstances that motivated these “Old Etonians” to spend a portion of their young lives on a treasure hunt for the lost Ark of the Covenant. I would like to thank author Graham Addison, publisher BooksGoSocial, and NetGalley for allowing me to read an eGalley of this book. I have not been compensated and my opinions are my own. I really enjoyed myself!

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I appreciate the publisher allowing me to read this e.A well written book about a fascinatingbut hard to prove subject.

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Even if you don't believe in the Ark of the Covenant, you will love this book! It's a true story of the Parker Expedition, who in the early 1900s mounted a search for the Ark. This group of wealthy, elite people hunted through libraries, old stories from the indigenous peoples in the countries they searched through as well as the bible. The author is true in his descriptions of how this group of people treated the native peoples, which was pretty disgusting, even for those times. The author also gives a wonderfully descriptive narrative of each main adventurer as well as the lore behind the tales experienced by others who had search for the Ark. A really great read. Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with this copy, for my unpaid, honest review.

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'Indiana Jones and the Daft Crusade'. Here's the pitch: a clutch of languid, desperate-for-adventure, ex-military public school boys team up with a fake medium and a possibly deranged Swedish scholar who claimed to have found hidden codes in the Book of Isaiah leading to the secret location of the Ark of The Covenant. They burn their way through a not-so-small fortune, cause mayhem and riot in Ottoman Jerusalem by tunneling under the Al-Aqsa mosque and, despite their 'expert' finding fresh clues (When the first ones prove fruitless), find nothing better than a Biblical commode. Can we get Harrison interested? You couldn't make it up – and luckily there's no need as it all really happened. Thanks to Edgcumbe Press & NetGalley for the ARC *****

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