Searching for Sheba

Her original purpose may have been to quiz the great king, but it was the torrid love affair between the wise and powerful Israelite ruler and the mysterious monarch from the south that everyone remembers. Their legendary romance, celebrated in both Bible and Koran, begat epic poetry, Hollywood extravaganzas, musical works by George Frideric Handel and Charles Gounod and, according to Ethiopian tradition, an African dynasty that endured until Haile Selassie was deposed in 1974.

What nobody knows for sure, though, is whether this storied queen actually existed — or even what her name might have been. The Arabs call...

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