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Date: Thu, 3 Jun 1999 10:44:25 -0500 (CDT)
From: nattyreb@ix.netcom.com
Subject: !*British Invade Queen of Sheba's "Burial Place"
Article: 66371
Message-ID: <bulk.10265.19990604121552@chumbly.math.missouri.edu>

From: "Esco Babatunde II" <worldco@earthlink.net>
Archaeologists find clues to Queen of Sheba in Nigeria, Find May Rival Egypts's Pyramids


Archaeologists find clues to Queen of Sheba in Nigeria, Find May Rival Egypts's Pyramids

From Nigeria News
4 June 1999

BRITISH scientists have unearthed in Nigeria's rain forest a suspected centre of one of Africa's greatest kingdoms and possible burial place of the legendary Queen of Sheba - pushing the country to the fore of ancient history.

Hidden in the forest of the old Ijebu Kingdom, a few hours drive from Lagos, are the Eredo earthworks reputedly larger than the famous great pyramids of Egypt. The teamof scientists from Bournemouth University, working with archaeologist Dr. Patrick Darling, have concluded a preliminary survey of the earthworks, comprising a wall and ditch measuring 14 metres high and about 160 kilometres long.Builders of the earthworks had shifted an estimated 3.5m cubic metres of earth to build the ramparts - one million cubic metres more than the amount of rock and earth which went into building the Greta Pyramid of Cheops in Egypt.

The ramparts marked out what is believed to be the boundary of the original Ijebu Kingdom ruled by the Awujale. Civil wars and the arrival of the British eventually broke the kingdom's centuries-old Lagos lagoon trade monopoly. Darling described the Eredo site as a breathtaking find, with many of its remains relatively intact, although overgrown by the rain forest.

"We are not linking what we found to a city, but to a vast kingdom boundary rampart," he told the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).The archaeologist added: "The vertical sided ditches go around the area for 100miles (160km), and it is more than 1,000 years old. That makes it the earliest proof of a kingdom founded in the African rain forest". But more intriguing still is the suggested link to the Queen of Sheba, one of theworld's oldest love stories.

According to the Biblical Old Testament, the Queen, ruler of Saba, sent a camel train of gold and ivory to King Solomon. The king wooed and married the queen after she became overwhelmed by the splendour of his palace, and their son began a dynasty of rulers in Ethiopia. The Bible dates the queen's reign to the 10th century BC, and modern scholars haves peculated that a link between Judea and an ancient African queen led to the emergence of Judaism in Ethiopia.

In a tale closely linked to that in the Bible, the Koran describes the Queen as a sun worshipper based in the Arabian peninsula, who was converted to Islam. Arabian legend names the queen "Bilqis," and links her to the incense trade which was then asource of great regional power. But 500-year-old Portuguese documents hint at the power of an Ijebu Kingdom, and build the case for Sheba being on the other side of the continent. Darling, the archaeologist, said local people around the Eredo monuments link thearea to Bilikisu Sungbo, another name for Sheba.

Local tradition speaks of a great queen building a vast monument of remembrance, and there is a yearly pilgrimage to what is believed to be her grave.The region's long history of gold and ivory trade and the cultural importance of eunuchs linked to royal households further support the Sheba link. "I don't want to overplay the Sheba theory but it cannot be discounted," Darling said.

He added: "The local people believe it, and that's what is important. Hundreds or thousands of pilgrims come to this area every year to honour what could be her grave, a magical shrine grove under tall trees." She is very much a real figure to local people. She is associated with the earlier figure of Bilikisu Sungbo, but I think the traditional figure was a powerful matriarch. The most cogent argument against it at the moment is the dating."

Darling, a member of the African Legacy educational organisation which is working with the Nigerian government, said that Eredo could become Nigeria's first world heritage site, joining monuments such as Stonehenge in the United Kingdoms, and the Pyramids of Egypt. According to him, Eredo has remained hidden to the outside world because of the lackof scientific and archaeological research in West Africa."

What is exciting about this for me is that we are beginning to bring out the tremendous political and cultural achievements of black Africa. But there is a lot more work that we can do in the region," he said.