Tana Qirqos

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Tana Qirqos (variantly spelled Tana Kirkos; also called Tana Chirqos or Tana Chirkos, etc.; Ge'ez: ጣና ቂርቆስ ṭānā ḳīrḳōs, ጣና ጪርቆስ ṭānā č̣īrḳōs) is an island in the eastern part of Lake Tana in Ethiopia, near the mouth of the Gumara River, having a latitude and longitude of 11°51′49″N 37°29′27″E / 11.86361°N 37.49083°E / 11.86361; 37.49083Coordinates: 11°51′49″N 37°29′27″E / 11.86361°N 37.49083°E / 11.86361; 37.49083. It is considered a holy island, and only monks of the Ethiopian Church live there.

The monks believe that the island was once the resting place of the Ark of the Covenant. According to tradition, the Ark of the Covenant was brought to Tana Kirkos from a Jewish outpost on Elephantine Island in Egypt, and was kept on the island from about 400 BC to AD 400 then later moved to Mary of Zion church in Axum.

When R.E. Cheesman visited Tana Qirqos in 1933, he found a large stratum of rock at the northern end of the island, which looked "like a huge wall of masonry" 400 or 500 yards long and standing about 100 feet high, He recorded that the formation "has been identified as olivine-bearing basalt," and that "in all probability the island gives its name to the lake."[1]


  1. ^ R.E. Cheesman, "Lake Tana and Its Islands", Geographical Journal, 85 (1935), p. 498