In Search of King Solomon's Mines
King Solomon, the Bible's wisest king, also possessed extraordinary wealth. He built a temple at Jerusalem that was said to be more fabulous than any other landmark in the ancient world, heavily adorned with gold from Ophir. The precise location of this legendary land has been one of history's great unsolved mysteries. Long before Rider Haggard's classic adventure novel King Solomon's Mines produced a fresh outbreak of gold fever, explorers, scientists and theologians had scoured the world for the source of the king's astonishing wealth.
In this book, Tahir Shah takes up the quest, using as his leads a mixture of texts including The Septuagint, the earliest form of the Bible, as well as geological, geographical and folkloric sources. Time and again the evidence points towards Ethiopia, the ancient kingdom in the horn of Africa whose imperial family claims descent from Menelik, the son born to Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. Tahir Shah's trail takes him to a remote cliff-face monastery where the monks pull visitors up on a leather rope, to the ruined castles of Gondar, and to the churches of Lalibela, hewn from solid rock. In the south, he discovers an enormous illegal gold mine, itself like something out of the Old Testament, where thousands of men, women and children dig with their hands. But the hardest leg of the journey is to the accursed mountain of Tullu Wallel, where legend says there lies an ancient shaft, once the entrance of King Solomon's mines.
Tahir Shah's account of his journey in search of the facts behind the fiction is every bit as exciting as Rider Haggard's.