The search for the Ark that inspired the Indiana Jones blockbuster has been given a new lease of life.
The Ark of the Covenant, a wooden and gold-plated box, is believed to contain the famous stone tablets which bear the Ten Commandments.
But despite its fame, nobody has ever been able to find the sacred box.
Now, researchers from Israel and France are reigniting the quest to find the Ark by excavating a little-explored biblical site believed to have once held the lost artefact.
The ancient site of Kiriath-Jearim, in west Jerusalem, will be opened up for the first time this summer.
‘The place is important for several reasons,’ Professor Israel Finkelstein, from Tel Aviv University, told The Times of Israel.
‘It’s a large, central site in the Jerusalem hills that hasn’t been studied until now.
‘It may be the only key site in Judah that hasn’t undergone a systematic archaeological excavation.’
The Ark was stored at Kiriath-Jearim for two decades, according to the Book of Samuel.
The ancient site is referred to as a place of worship multiple times in the bible, and has various names including Kiryat Ye’arim, Kiryat Ba’al, Ba’alah and Ba’ale Judah.
The site is rumoured to have been the inspiration behind the 1981 blockbuster, Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Professor Finkelstein, who will excavate the site along with researchers from College de France, said: ‘It’s reasonable to assume there was a temple there.
‘To follow the story, the place where they took the Ark of the Covenant wasn’t, of course, just some field or under a tree, they refer to an important cult place.’
The scientists will explore the ancient site between August 7 and September 1.