The oldest Ark of the Covenant yet found, dating from ancient Palestine, was uncovered at Nabratein in upper Galilee, a team of American researchers say. The Duke University and University of South Florida discovery was announced by a Duke professor of religion, who said that although only part of the artifact was recovered, it was a significant find because it was the first such discovery of its kind.
The ark portion discovered is of white limestone and weighs half a ton. It features two lions standing astride a gabled roof and a scallop shell. It was found buried in the prayer platform of a synagogue replacing an earlier one damaged in an earthquake in AD 306.
Arks are derived from the Ark of the Old Testament, an ornate gold-plated chest said to contain the stone tablets of the Ten Commandments Moses brought down fro m Mt. Sinai.