The “ngoma lungundu” belongs to the Lemba people – black Africans who claim Jewish ancestry.
They say the vessel was built almost 700 years ago from the remains of the original Ark, which the Bible says was used to store Moses’ 10 Commandments.
For decades the ancient vessel was thought to be lost, until it was found in a storeroom in Harare recently.
Tudor Parfitt, who rediscovered the artefact three years ago, told the BBC he believed it was the oldest wooden object ever found in sub-Saharan Africa.
“On each corner there is the remnants of a wooden ring, and obviously at one point, it was carried by inserting poles through these two rings on either side,” he said.
“Of course in the biblical account, that’s precisely how the Ark of the Covenant was carried across the wilderness.”
The instructions to build the Ark of the Covenant can be found in Exodus 25:10-16.
“Have them make a chest of acacia wood—two and a half cubits long, a cubit and a half wide, and a cubit and a half high. Overlay it with pure gold, both inside and out, and make a gold molding around it. Cast four gold rings for it and fasten them to its four feet, with two rings on one side and two rings on the other. Then make poles of acacia wood and overlay them with gold. Insert the poles into the rings on the sides of the chest to carry it. The poles are to remain in the rings of this ark; they are not to be removed. 16 Then put in the ark the Testimony, which I will give you.