New Fernbank exhibition sheds light on the Queen of Sheba

Four things you might not know

Fernbank curator and anthropologist Bobbi Hohmann shares four things you might be surprised to learn about the enigmatic queen.

Queen of Sheba
She might not have even existed.

There’s no archaeological proof of Sheba. But there is a kingdom of Saba, or Sheba, in Yemen that many scholars believe is tied to her myth. Others argue that she ruled in what is now Ethiopia.

Queen of Sheba
She goes by several names.

In Islamic stories, she’s referred to as Bilqis. In African tales, she’s Makeda. She’s also often referred to as the Queen of the South.

Queen of Sheba
She’s linked to the Ark of the Covenant.

Some believe that Sheba had a son with King Solomon, says Hohmann, and that he left Israel with the Ark and brought it to Ethiopia, where it’s stored in St. Mary’s Church.

Queen of Sheba
She could be one person—or many.

In religious stories, she’s only referred to as the queen. So theoretically, says Hohmann, all these references could be to different individuals who held the same royal title.

On the calendar: From September 26 to January 3, 2016, Fernbank hosts the world premiere of Searching for the Queen of Sheba, featuring both ancient artifacts and contemporary art.

Illustrations by  Niki Fisher/The Illustration Group

This article originally appeared in our September 2015 issue under the headline “Bow down.”