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Leading Edge

African Queen

A museum studies prof is working to unearth the ancient leader's complete life story

The queen of Sheba was once one of the world’s most powerful leaders, but there are few clues left about this woman who ruled an influential African nation – perhaps, as some archeologists maintain, in what is now southwest Nigeria.

Lynne Teather, a professor of museum studies, is working in Ike-Eri, Nigeria, to unearth the queen’s complete life story and to have a new museum and interpretive centre built in her honour. Ike-Eri is believed to be the location of the queen’s last home and gravesite.

“Each year both Muslim and Christian religious pilgrims come to this site in Ike-Eri to pray and honour the queen of Sheba – also known as Bilikisu Sungbo to those of the Islamic faith – even though Ethiopia maintains that she is actually buried in their country,” says Teather. “Indigenous knowledge and oral traditions maintain that the site in Ike-Eri is the shrine of the queen.”

Through the Bilikisu Sungbo Project, Teather is working to uncover the queen’s history and to establish a feasibility study on the impact of tourism to the site. She wants to research how new roads to a planned museum and new employment opportunities would affect the local population.

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