Saturday, October 10, 2015

Science and the Legend of Menelik of Ethiopia

There is a tradition in Ethiopia that their kings were descended directly from King Solomon through Menelik, a son he allegedly had with the Queen of Sheba.  The legend goes on to say that when he was a young man, Menelik visited his father Solomon, and when he returned he brought with him the eldest son of the high priest, 1000 people from each of the 12 tribes (and also from the Levites, no doubt), and the Ark of the Covenant.

Now I am not Ethiopian, and on the basis of 2 Maccabees I doubt the story about them having the Ark.  (I suspect they have an ancient copy of the Ark, which over the centuries has become confused with the original, with no intent to deceive being necessary for the confusion.)  However, there is an interesting story on in which genetics has shown that there was a 
mysterious migratory event which occurred roughly 3,000 years ago, known as the 'Eurasian backflow', when people from regions of Western Eurasia such as the Near East and Anatolia suddenly flooded back into the Horn of Africa.
Both the time and the place are a suggestively good fit to the Ethiopian legend.  Even if some of the details were later embellished, it appears the legend is a memory of a real event.

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