Archaeologist and former British Museum curator Louise Schofield was the guest speaker and her talk was entitled “Temples, Tombs and Treasurers: In Search of the Queen of Sheba”.
Isle group member Jillian Horberry said: “Louise presented an exceptional lecture to a very full house of members of the Fine Arts society at the Trinity Centre this month on the legend of the Queen of Sheba.
“Louise works for six months of the year in the north of Ethiopia camping with her excavating team far away from any infrastructure and she described how easy it was to imagine the Queen arriving on a camel, overseeing slaves and elephants dragging rocks from her mines of gold high on the Gheralta plateau.
“Where she dug her riches is one of the greatest stories of the Old Testament.
“Sheba was undoubtedly a powerful incense-trading kingdom that prospered through trade with the Roman Empire.”
She added: “Almost 3,000 years ago, the ruler of Sheba, which spanned modern-day Ethiopia and Yemen, each side of the Red Sea, arrived in Jerusalem with vast quantities of gold to give to King Solomon.
“The Queen’s visit, immortalised in Qur’an and the Bible, is described “with a very great retinue, with camels bearing spices and very much gold and precious stones ... and she gave the king 120 talents of gold.
“Hers is said to be one of the world’s oldest love stories. Legend has it that he wooed her and that descendants of their child, Menelik - son of the wise - became the kings of Abyssinia.”
Although little is known about her, the Queen’s image has inspired medieval Christian mystical works, as well as Dutch, English, Persian, Turkish artists over the years, Handel’s oratorio Solomon and many Hollywood movies.
Mrs Horberry added: “The story told by Louise with her interesting slides is still heard across Africa and Arabia and whether fact or fiction is a very infectious one.”
The next date for the society is on Thursday April 3 when Elizabeth Gordon will speak on The Viennese Secession - Klimt, Schiele and Otto Wagner, with music by Mahler and Schoenburg.
Lunch is available and should be booked in advance with Rachel by the preceding Monday on 01427 838780.
Visitors are always welcome to attend meetings a couple of times before joining with a £5 entrance. Membership is available on 01427 788568.