(2) The Ark was supposedly once kept in the main church, but has now been moved to a separate building built in the 1950's called the "Chapel of the Tablet." The reason for this move? Reportedly, the Ark was moved to the Chapel of the Tablet adjacent to the old church because a divine 'heat' from the Tablets had cracked the stones of its previous sanctum
(3) The Church, which claims to possess the Ark, is staffed by a large group of deacons whose job is to guard the Holy of Holies, the sanctuary, where the Ark is said to rest. By longstanding tradition, if anybody tries to intrude, he is killed on site. This is well documented in Graham Hancock's book Sign and Seal, where the author merely attempts to peek behind a curtain outside of the sanctuary and is tackled by the deacons, beaten and physically flung out of the Church.
(4) The emperors of Ethiopia, even the late Haile Selassie, claimed to be descended from Solomon.
(5) Ethiopia is home to the mysterious Qemant tribe, who practice a mixture of paganism and Judaism. It is unknown where they got their Jewish practices, all of which predate the arrival of Christianity (c. 4th century).
(6) Ethiopia is also the home of the more populous Falashas, also known as the "Black Jews of Ethiopia." They are a tribe of black Jews who have dwelt in and around Lake Tana from time immemorial and practice the Jewish faith. Their Judaism lacks any Talmudic or Rabbinic influence and has been judged to date from before the exilic period (pre-500 BC). Their existence so far from Israel and their ancient, pre-Christian adherence to Judaism have never been satisfactorily explained.
(7) The Church of St. Mary of Zion is staffed by several monks whose job it is to protect the Ark. Only one monk, a guardian, is allowed access to the Ark. The guardian monk is appointed for life by his predecessor before the predecessor dies. If the incumbent guardian dies without naming a successor, then the monks of the monastery hold an election to select the new guardian. The guardian then is confined to the chapel of the Ark of the Covenant for the rest of his life (sometimes with a chain), praying before it and offering incense.
On Lake Tana in Ethiopia, there is an island called Tana Kirkos. On this island, there exists a small monastic community of Ethiopian Orthodox monks that have lived there from time immemorial. They make the interesting claim that the Ark was on their island for several centuries. Furthermore, the island is home to some fascinating sacrificial stones dating to the first millenium BC that the monks say were used by their ancestors, whom they say were Jews come from Canaan. If we look at the geography of Tana Kirkos, we see that it is directly south of Elephantine (as the Nile turns into Lake Tana the further south we go).
Ethiopian Monks from a monastery on Tana Kirkos in Lake Tana where, according to their tradition, the Ark of the Covenant rested for 800 years before being taken to Axum sometime in the first millenium AD.
From Tana Kirkos, it is only a short trip to the north to Axum. If we look at the places around Ethiopia that lay claim to having at one time possessed the Ark, we can almost see a logical progression. First, the Ark dissappears from Israel in the half-century before the Babylonian capitvity and is taken to the Jewish settlement of Elephantine, where the remains of a mysterious Jewish "Temple" have been found. Next, we see that a small island called Tana Kirkos in the middle of Lake Tana at the source of the Blue Nile claims it possessed the Ark for centuries and is the site of several mysterious sacrifical stones (by the way, Tana Kirkos is directly down the Nile from Elephantine). Finally, we come to Axum and St. Mary of Zion Church, where the Ark is supposed to rest today, guarded by a "Guardian Monk" who is physically confined to the sanctuary and guarded by deacons who kill intruders.
Well, this is the argument for Axum. What do you think of it? It has one fundamental weakness: the failure of anybody to produce the Ark. However, this argument has many strong points: there is a strong tradition behind it, archaeological evidence to support it, good reasoning behind it, and, despite what you may think, not as unverifiable as the other three theories.
The Axumite theory is unverifiable, but only relatively unverifiable, not absolutely. It is only relatively unverifiable because nobody is granted access to the sanctuary at St. Mary of Zion. In theory, there is no reason somebody could not force their way into the sanctuary and confirm or debunk the theory once and for all. But out other three theories are unverifiable in the absolute sense. No matter how much we search Mt. Nebo or the Temple Mount, it can always be claimed that we were looking in the wrong place or that we just need to dig a little deeper; and, there is no way to verify if the Ark was taken away by the Babylonians. Therefore, our other three theories are actually less verifiable than the Ethiopian theory.
I have to say that I personally believe that if the Ark is anywhere on this earth, it is in the sanctuary of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church of St. Mary in Axum. It is the only theory that makes real sense. For an excellent treatment of this topic, check out Graham Hancock's Sign and Seal. He presents this argument in a much more detailed manner. He is an anti-supernaturalist and disbelieves in the miraculous stories attributed to the Ark, but his historical and archaeological scholarship is unimpeachable.