London, May 13 : Archaeologists from the University of Hamburg have claimed that they have discovered the Queen of Sheba's palace and an altar that may have once held the Ark of the Covenant in Axum, Ethiopia.
The Ethiopian queen was the friend and ally of King Solomon of Israel in the 10th century before Christ.
After she died her son and successor, Menelek, replaced the palace with a temple dedicated to Sirius.
The German researchers believe that the Ark was taken from Jerusalem by the Queen - who had a liaison with King Solomon - and built into the altar to Sirius.
Sothis is the ancient Greek name for the star Sirius.
Professor Helmut Ziegert, of the archaeological institute at the university, has been supervising a dig in Aksum, northern Ethiopia, since 1999.
"From the dating, its position and the details that we have found, I am sure that this is the palace," TimesOnline quoted him, as saying.
"The results we have suggest that a Cult of Sothis developed in Ethiopia with the arrival of Judaism and the Ark of the Covenant, and continued until 600AD," an announcement by the University of Hamburg on behalf of the research team said.
The Ark was made, according to the Bible, of gold-plated acacia wood and topped with two golden angels. It is said to be the source of great power. In about 586BC, when the Babylonians conquered the Israelites, the Ark vanished.
Iris Gerlach, of the German Archaeological Institute in Sanaa, Yemen, believes the religious centre of Sheba is in present-day Yemen.
Although she does not go head-to-head with her colleague Professor Ziegert, the message is clear: a relic such as the Ark would have been stored in an important relgious city rather than Aksum.