Jewish 'Lost Tribe' Found in Africa
Ark of the Covenant may have been in Zimbabwe all along
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 9, 2010 2:40 AM CST
Updated Mar 9, 2010 7:00 AM CST
A Lemba man wearing a skullcap performs a religious ceremony.   (YouTube)

(Newser) – An African tribe's claim to be descended from Jews who fled the Holy Land 2,500 years ago has been backed up by DNA testing. The Lemba, who live in South Africa and Zimbabwe, are largely Christian or Muslim, but they practice many Jewish traditions, including wearing skullcaps, eschewing pork, and placing the Star of David on their tombstones, the BBC reports.

The 80,000-strong tribe's priestly clan was found to share genetic elements with Jews named Cohen. One professor who has spent 20 years researching the Lemba believes their "ngoma lungundu" sacred object is—as the tribe's oral history maintains—the biblical Ark of the Covenant. Carbon dating shows it to be just 700 years old, but the professor believes it was built with the remains of the original Ark after it was destroyed in battle. "It's the closest descendant of the Ark that we know of," he said.