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.