Comstock Sculpture Studio
1201 W. Thornton Parkway #313
Thornton, CO 80260
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"The Ark of the Covenant"
Work in Progress

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In December of 1998, an official of a church in Denver Colorado ask me to do an interpretation of the Ark of the Covenant, as I thought it might have looked. After receiving this request my objective and focus was to come up with what I would reasonably consider to be an authentic illustration of the Ark. During my research, I found a great many illustrations of the Ark but clearly the most prevalent tendency was for the artist to use conventions and standards of their historic time frame and not those of the period 1220 BC.

I felt particularly well prepared for this assignment. I had been studying Middle Eastern antiquities for about six years. My primary area of interest Before getting this assignment had been to focus on the chronological comparison of historic Egypt with the biblical accounts of the patriarchs of the Hebrews during the historic period of the sojourn. I spent another six months of study focusing on the historic time frame of the Exodus with the objective of illustrating the Ark of the Covenant in an authentic way. After this extensive research and looking at other artists concepts I had failed to find any illustrations of the Ark that passed my critical review and I realized that I was applying a logic train that went something like this:

  1. The Hebrews having just left Egypt would have been influenced conceptually by what they had seen and heard in Egypt, particularly Moses. 
  2. The craftsman who had been commissioned to build the Ark would have learned their craft in Egypt, therefore the conventions used to build the Ark and its imagery would have been the conventions used in Egyptian art on or before 1220 BC. 
  3. If I wanted to know what the ark looked like I should apply only these conventions to the illustration of the Ark. 
  4. The Ark's iconography and morphology would be consistent with its use and meaning within the Hebrew culture.

The next step was to learn these conventions and to strictly discipline myself to use these and only these conventions in the creation of my illustrations and prototypes of the arc. The line drawing of the Ark, on these pages, is my concept of how the Ark may have been illustrated by an artist using the conventions of Egyptian art in the historic period of 1220 BC. Nothing was left to chance in Egyptian art. Have a look at the Timelines and Events of the Hebrew Sojourn superimposed on a Historic Chronology of The Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt.

Egyptian illustration, every gesture, symbol and glyph has a very specific meaning and the meaning of the whole is often enhanced significantly depending on the additive nature of its parts. As I built this illustration I couldn't help but marvel at the cumulative significance and consistency the Egyptian symbology had with the meaning and scriptural references to the Ark.

Some of the meanings contained within the iconography of the Ark are:

  1. The primordial waters:
    In Graham Hancock's book "The Sign and the Seal" he mentions the comparison of the Arc to the Virgin Mary. A woman's amniotic fluids can be compared to the Primordial waters of creation. In fact, universally life still comes forth from this source throughout nature. Through Mary the living word came forth from the womb.

  2. Lotus Flowers: Life, healing and resurrection.

  3. Palace or Royal Dwelling: This decorative border is used extensively in the Tutenkhamen burial shrines.

  4. Throne Glyph:
    The throne of God, a place of Judgement and meeting place with God.

  5. The figures gesture of worship and adoration:

  6. Proportions of the Golden Mean:
    5 parts wide to 3 parts high and wide. These proportions are found consistently throughout Egyptian art and are considered sacred. These proportions are found in the funerary shrines of Tutenkhamen's tomb. This was fully 200 years before the Exodus. These proportions contain these are the proportions of the Golden mean. It is evident these proportions were clearly recognized and used consistently by the Egyptians in their sacred furnishings, shrines and temples. Although the best evidence of this is the Tutenkhamen shrines in their entirety I'm sure the proportions were canonized long before the time of Tutenkhamen .

  7. Spiritual Gateway: The grove of sycamore trees representing a gateway, in this context it is a spiritual gateway.

  8. The Egyptian principle of stacking allows you to look at the entire composition as a landscape.

  9. It's symbolically a vessel or vehicle, an ark of transport to carry God's law, which can be likened to the belly of a boat, one of the most common forms of transportation for spiritual ceremonies in Egypt.

  10. It was the central object of focus for worship, sacrifice and judgment for the Hebrews in this historic time frame.

  11. It probably magically functioned as a transmitter-receiver. At the very least it was point of contact between God and the Hebrew priesthood. Which is a power supply only the initiated would have fully understood.

  12. Clenched Fist: Signifying the feminine aspect of creation.

  13. Wings of Cherubim held in the symbolic gesture of protection and safety.

  14. Cherubim as the heavenly Worshipers and protectors of God

  15. The priests carrying the Ark wear belts with trailers made of snake skins. These belts are symbolic of conquering mans lower nature, very much in the tradition of St. George slaying the Dragon. This is one of my favorite Christian Icons.

I am currently transcribing my line drawings into three-dimensional models of 1/5 and 1/10 scales. The actual dimensions of the model are 1/5 scale 10" x 6" x 6" inches and 1/10 scale 5" x 3" x 3" inches. I am creating the models because I feel the models would have some appeal to Christians, Hebrews and definitely Egyptians both in Israel and Egypt. I stand half done with the models having the cherubim yet to complete. It may not be possible to find the actual Historic Arc, but I have satisfied to a large extent any curiosity that I had of what its likely appearance of the arc may have been.

If you think you would like to participate financially in the creation of a full-scale replica of this concept contact me and I will explain the procedure.


For further information about the Ark of the Covenant: Timelines and Events of the Hebrew Sojourn superimposed on a Historic Chronology of The Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt

A selection of information collected about the Ark compiled by Gerald N. Shapiro 

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