Daniel Pearl. "If Only King Solomon Were Here to Settle This Nasty Dispute: Both Ethiopia and Yemen Claim Queen of Sheba as Their Native Heroine." Wall Street Journal, May 2, 1997, pg. 1.

Axum, Ethiopia. Her name was Makeda, better known as the Queen of Sheba. The Bible records that she ruled a rich kingdom from here, according to locals who tell legends about the wise, beautiful African queen. Soon, Ethiopians hope, her tomb here will be foundů.

Marib, Yemen. Her name was Bilqis, better known as the Queen of Sheba. The Koran records that she ruled a rich kingdom from here, according to locals who tell legends about the wise, beautiful Arab queen. Soon, Yemenis hope, her tomb here will be foundů.

Which version is correct? Maybe neither. Archaeologists have found plenty of inscriptions from the ancient Sabean kingdom on old stones in Ethiopia and Yemen. Strangely, none mention a Makeda or Bilqis. Nor do any mention a female ruler from 950 B.C., when the queen is supposed to have reigned. Indeed, nothing tht old has ben found among the ruins in Axum or Marib.

But that hasn't stopped Ethiopia and Yemen from laying claim to the Queen of Sheba. Both countries are trying to pump up tourism, and Western travelers seem to like nothing more than a familiar name in an unfamiliar setting.

"Land of the Queen of Sheba," proclaim travel posters in Yemen. Tour guides in Marib give her credit for building the ancient Marib dam and praying at two temples that now bear her name. Guests who ask about her at the modern Bilqis Hotel get an elaborate information sheet ("She never made important decisions without consulting her ministers and advisers.") "I guess it's good business," says German tourist Martin Rettenmayr, browsing in the hotel.

About 600 miles west across the Red Sea in Axum, where a new international airport will soon replace the town's gravel runway, tourist shops sell stone carvings of Sheba marrying King Solomon or suckling their child. Tour guides in this dusty mountain town point out the throne room at the reconstructed Queen of Sheba's palace, and the queen's multihued goblet in the local museum; both palace and goblet are actually from around the sixth century, archaeologists say.

"It's all a lot of hot air," says Colombian tourist Camilo Mejia, sipping Ethiopian red wine at the Makeda restaurant after comparing his guide's explanations with his guidebook's.

'No Smoke Without Fire'

Yemen and Ethiopia are both encouraging archaeologists to dig deeper for proof of Sheba. "There is no smoke without fire," says Yusuf Abdulla, director of Yemen's General Organization for Antiquities and Museums. In the past, Yemen wasn't exactly a hospitable place to practice arhaeology. American explorer Wendell Phillips, who started excavating Marib's Moon Temple of Sheba in 1952, had to run for his life four months after arriving when local tribesmen became convinced his team was actually prospecting for gold. Civil wars later put a crimp on excavations.

Last month, however, Yemen's government reached an agreement with the late Dr. Phillips's American Foundation for the Study of Man to excavate the oval-walled temple with the help of ground-penetrating radar. That kind of spending will require corporate sponsors. "Their eyes light up when you talk about the Queen of Sheba," says archaeologist William Glanzman of the University of British Col