Review: 'Secrets Of The Lost Ark'

Post by: Rick Ellis 06 June, 2021

There is an entire category of documentary television that could best be described as "searching again for things that are never going to be found." These shows pretend to be "searching" for some iconic historical and/or scientific mystery like Bigfoot or the Holy Grail. In some cases, a number of different series have been devoted to the search, all of which tend to cover the same ground and in the end never discover anything new.

So why do viewers keep tuning in? Part of it is just the familiarity of the search. A search for lost gold (for example) is the science category equivalent of HGTV's House Hunters International. It's comfortable, lean-back television that has some great visuals and maybe you learn a few new pieces of trivia during the travels. Watching these shows doesn't require a lot of deep thought and in 2021, there's something to be said for that type of thought-free programing.

The Science Channel series Secrets Of The Lost Ark focuses on one of television most familiar mysteries: the location of the Ark Of The Covenant. This chest is arguably the most searched-for archaeological treasure in history, because it was said to be the repository of the word of God-the original Ten Commandments. The Ark vanishes from history in the sixth century B.C., right before the Babylonian sack of Jerusalem. And despite everyone from the Romans to the Nazis searching for it over the centuries, there has never been a confirmed mention of the Ark or its contents.

But that doesn't mean that there aren't a lot of theories about what might have happened, some of them more likely than others. The Babylonians don't seem to have acquired the Ark during their sacking of Jerusalem, and the most likely scenario seems to be the Jewish priests used the extensive tunnel system under the Temple to either hide the Ark or somehow smuggle it to safety. But no one knows and there isn't even the slightest archaeological clue to point Ark hunters in a likely direction. Which leaves a lot of room for speculation and Secrets Of The Lost Ark is less about revealing secrets no one has than it is about recounting all of the places the Ark COULD be.

Each episode of the show centers around a different group of theories. From the cable television staple Knights Templar to Roman soldiers. There is speculation that Jeremiah might have hidden the Ark in Ireland or that the Jewish resistance hid the Ark in what is now Ethiopia. While some of the ideas seem quite outlandish, the attraction of shows like this one is that many of the theories sound reasonable on the face of it. Maybe the Ark WAS hidden in the grave of a Goth warrior who was buried under a river in Italy. Maybe the Vatican is hiding it in its massive secret library. Perhaps the Ark remains hidden under the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, placed in some forgotten tunnel that has been lost to time.

I can't say that you'll learn much new watching Secrets Of The Lost Ark. But if this is the type of programming you enjoy, it's a solidly entertaining example of the genre. But spoiler: the biggest secret of the Ark is that its whereabouts are still secret.

Secrets Of The Ark airs Sunday nights at 10 pm ET/PT on the Science Channel.

Last modified on Monday, 07 June 2021 08:48