My favorite programme Legend Quest went in search of King Solomon’s Ring this week – fronted as ever by the hyper-active Ashley Cowie, self-styled ‘archaeological explorer’. Off he went to find this biblical ring that can give its owner superhuman powers. And his quest started in Jerusalem.
“Just by slipping the ring on your finger…” you become all powerful, he explained.
The archangel Michael gave Solomon the ring with the star of David engraved on it, giving him the power to enslave demons and the king forced them to build the Temple of Jerusalem. But one demon stole the ring and cast it into the sea where it was eaten by a fish. Solomon was reduced from king to pauper but fortunately….managed to buy a fish to eat. Guess what? There was the ring. And off he went – back to rule Israel.
Ashley goes to Jerusalem to see the new excavations of Solomon’s walls but – unfortunately – he can’t go down because it’s an active dig. Bit of an anti-climax. So Ashley makes do with a stroll down the Via Dolorosa. And he sniffs out a local antique dealer who can show him another way to get within Solomon’s ruined temple walls.
He goes to see said dealer and Ashley is taken to a back room where ‘they can speak in private’. The dealer knows of a secret entrance to Solomon’s destroyed Temple!
Sure enough, the dealer takes them to an entry to some underground passages ‘outside the city walls’. It could the be way up into Solomon’s Temple and his ring would certainly be hidden there – explains Ashley.
But unfortunately, their clambering inside these dark passages leads to a dead end. Kinga – the programme field producer – opines that it’s clearly an obstacle built to keep ‘something’ in and keep people out.
Next, Ashley storms off down a rainy motorway to Tel Meggido – the supposed location for Armageddon. The End of Days battle! Ashley looks for clues of Solomon’s presence in the ruins of the hilltop settlement but there’s no signs. A smirking local archaeologist tells Ashley and Kinga that she’s seen nothing – though adds cryptically that ‘absence of evidence is not evidence of an absence’.
It then transpires that the people who originally lived in Tel Megiddo drifted at some point from the hilltop down into the valley. That’s where you might find clues, the archaeologist tells Ashley. Trouble is – there’s a maximum security Israeli prison on top of that later site now. But that doesn’t deter the intrepid Mr Cowie.
Inside the prison they have excavated a ‘prayer hall’ – with a mosaic. However – little snag – it’s a Christian church. And the mosaic has been covered in sand. Take the sand away – Ashley demands. The prison guide refuses. But he offers Ashley some photographs taken before the preserving sand was laid down.
There are two fishes in the mosaic – hmmm…why is that? Ashley concludes that one fish represents Jesus and the other….get ready for this….is the fish that ate Solomon’s ring!!! Of course – it’s blindingly obvious.
This clue convinces Ashley that the Christians nabbed the ring. So where would it be now? Rome – naturally! The centre of all Christianity. Flight to Italy. Now Ashley and Kinga are in Rome.
They find a church with a mosaic of fish and loaves above the door – and also a circle with the letter ‘P’ at the centre. The circle is like a wagon wheel that on closer inspection combines Greek letters that spell the word fish.
So – here’s what he concludes: Fish ate ring – fish turns up on mosaic – Christians stole ring – fish appears on church in Rome = pope must have ring!
Ashley stands in front of St Peter’s and interviews an expert who is remarkably indecisive to my thinking but Mr Cowie reads something between the lines and concludes that what he needs is a helicopter – which Kinga is ordered to find.
The resourceful producer finds one. And she has also managed to get permission to fly over the ‘restricted airspace’ of the Vatican. What does he find? A ‘wagon wheel’ design painted on the ground in St Peter’s Square (did they really need a helicopter to see that??).
The evidence is overwhelming. Fish – ring – Christians – Pope – it’s somewhere in the secret archives. Why would the pope have it? Because he has it ‘ready to do battle with evil in the final days’.